The Art of the Great Thank You Letter

by Kimberly Sarmiento

Follow-up Thank You Letter
It is imperative that you follow-up after a job interview in order to reaffirm your interest in the position. This article gives suggestions on how you can improve your thank you letter (or email) in order to make your candidacy more compelling. Best of all, it includes specific examples to illustrate some key points the author is trying to make.

Once upon a time it was a standard operating practice to send a thank you note for just about every occasion: birthday gifts, wedding gifts, baby showers, and so on. While this social convention is considered passé by many, it is still a winning strategy in the world of business. Companies communicate with their customers as a means of promoting loyalty (how many of your birthday cards last year were from some company you frequent?). Professionals congratulate each other on their accomplishments on LinkedIn as a means of keeping their “networks” up-to-date. Sales and account managers are continuously in contact with their accounts in order to optimize revenue generation.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that one of the key documents in your career management arsenal is a thank you (or follow up) letter. A well-written thank you letter can set you apart from your competition and bring you to the forefront of the hiring manager’s mind during a key point in the decision-making process. It can be sent a day after the interview and delivered in print (letter) or electronic form (email). If you are unsure what to include in your thank you letter, this article will illuminate some of the more important components. Read on:

Customize Your Letter

While a professional resume writer can provide you with a template for thank you letter writing, you will need to customize each letter you send. These letters are sent for job opportunities where you have gone through the initial interview, so, it is a letter worthy of some time investment.

Your letter needs to be personally addressed to the person you interviewed with. If you interviewed with more than one person, you can send a thank you letter to the main interviewer or to the entire panel. Remember that a hiring manager or human resources manager might be interviewing dozens of people a day for more than one job opening. Therefore, you will want to be specific about the position you interviewed for and reference the day of the interview.

Example:

Good day! I am writing to you to thank you for the time you spent on my interview on Monday, April 2nd. I want to restate my interest in the Sales Manager position and express my excitement about the opportunity to promote your product line.

Bring Up Points from the Interview

Despite the title, the main purpose of a thank you (or follow up) letter isn’t to just thank the interviewer for their time (though your letter should do that). The main purpose of the letter is to remind the interviewer of you and cultivate their interest in meeting with you again.

One way to demonstrate to a hiring manager how engaged you were with the process and reiterate your interest in the job opening is to bring up points from the interview in your letter. You probably already know that you should take a few notes during (or immediately after) an interview. One of the things you should try to note is any goal the hiring manager communicated for the job opening. For example, if they are looking to hire a Sales Manager to open a new territory. Perhaps they are interviewing a web developer with the intent of overhauling their existing corporate website to add an e-Commerce operation.

When you write your thank you letter, be sure to bring up some goal that the hiring manager mentioned – either specifically for the job opening or for the company in general – and point out how your skills or experience qualify you to help them achieve that goal.

Example:

During our meeting, you mentioned that your company is looking to expand into the Orlando market. Having sold a wide-range of products in Orlando between 2010 and 2015, I am well acquainted with that market and can still leverage a deep network I built there during that time. I could easily relocate there at no expense to you and would immensely enjoy calling on my old contacts to ensure a successful launch and rapid growth.

Reiterate Your Strengths

In addition to calling out a point from the interview and tying it to your achievements, you will want to quickly highlight some of your strengths again in the thank you letter. You can do this by including a few short bullets or by simply listing some of your areas of expertise. You will want these to reinforce the highlights you brought up in your resume, but with a great deal of brevity.

Example:

I believe I am a good fit for your organization due to my proven ability to effectively communicate product feature and benefits to c-level decision makers, overcome sales obstacles to close large contracts, and deliver first-class customer service throughout the sales cycle. For these reasons, I will make a positive impact on your client base and drive immediate and sustainable growth.

Include a Call to Action

It is best not to leave an interview without knowing what the “next steps” are in the process. Of course, you can only really achieve that when the company is very detailed about how they expect their hiring process to go. If the hiring manager told you they expect to call candidates back within a week, then your “call to action” should reflect that knowledge. If not, you can ask to hear from the hiring manager more directly.

Examples:

I recall at the end of the interview you mentioned you would be calling candidates within 10 days. If I can provide you any additional information before then, please let me know. Otherwise, I hope to hear from you about the next step in the process soon.
I am eager to take on my next challenge and believe I would be a good fit for your organization. If I can provide any additional information for your consideration, I would be happy to do so. Otherwise, I hope to meet with you again soon to continue discussing how I can help you meet your goals for this position.

Final Notes

A thank you (follow up) letter should be no longer than one page when printed. If you email your letter, you should try to write it so that most of the information fits within the email box without having to scroll down. Remember to include your contact information with the letter, so the hiring manager can contact you without having to look up your resume again. Of course, it should be grammatically correct and error-free like the resume and cover letter. However, since you are referencing a shared experience (the interview), this letter can be more conversational in tone.

Please find a couple of examples of complete thank you letters:

“Dear Janet Smith,

Good day! I am writing to you to thank you for taking the time to interview me for your open position of Web Designer on Friday, April 6th. I want to reiterate my interest in this job opening and express how excited I would be to work at your company.

During our interview, you mentioned that you were looking to redesign multiple client web pages to improve their e-Commerce capabilities. As a consultant, it has been my privilege to work with several small businesses in my community, setting them up with e-Commerce and social media strategies. I believe this experience along with my diverse technical training makes me an ideal candidate for this position.

Furthermore, I am trained in Agile development (which you mentioned you use at your company) and have completed multiple project management courses at City Community College. I will have no problem interfacing with your clients to understand their specific needs and customizing a web plan that achieves those goals.

Eager to take on my next challenge and believing that I would make a positive impact on your organization, I would like to meet again to discuss this opportunity further. If I can provide you with additional information, please let me know. Otherwise, I thank you for your consideration to date and hope to meet with you again soon.”


“Dear John Brown,

I am writing to you today to thank you for the time you spent on my interview for the District Sales Manager job on Wednesday, April 11th. I was somewhat familiar with your products ahead of time, but I enjoyed learning about your offerings from you. You displayed so much passion, I was ready to go out and start selling them that day!

During our meeting, you mentioned that you were looking to open a new sales territory in Atlanta, GA and that it was one of the markets this job would cover. As you can tell from my resume, I have significant sales experience in the Atlanta market. Calling upon a deep network there, I believe I could prove valuable to a successful launch in Atlanta. I am also familiar with your existing markets in Orlando and Tampa, Florida.

In addition to my established network, I want to highlight my success stories in these markets. I achieved a 10% gain while working in Atlanta for Company Y, captured $50K in new business for Company C in Tampa within six months of hire, and opened two new stores for Company X in Orlando (both stores surpassed first-year goals).

You mentioned you will be reaching out to candidates for second interviews by the end of the month. I want to thank you for my initial consideration and express my interest in continuing with the process. I hope to hear from you soon to schedule the next step.”

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