Here’s a piece of old-fashioned advice to build personal brand equity when you’re in the job search, and for overall successful networking and healthy career management:
Invest in some quality thank you notes and plenty of postage stamps, and start using them regularly.
That’s right. Remember snail mail? Get into the habit of sending hand-written thank you’s to just about anyone you interact with in your job search –not just interviewers!!! This can include people in your network who provide introductions or do favors for you, employers and colleagues who write recommendations, etc.
I recently heard that at most a mere 5% of job seekers send thank you’s after interviews. So imagine that number is closer to 1%, probably lower, for non-interview purposes. The impact for those who take advantage of this little-used strategy can be significant, as you will really stand out from the crowd.
Much more than a courtesy, a thank you note is your opportunity to re-sell yourself and once again position your brand and value proposition in front of hiring and business decision makers.
Clients of mine have told me that thank-you notes were the tipping point in their favor. The decision was down to the wire. My clients sent thank you’s, their competition didn’t. Hiring decision makers said they were so impressed by the thoughtfulness and effort, the thank you was the deciding factor.
That thoughtfulness will go a long way towards impressing your other contacts as well, and may make them inclined to want to do more business with you, or to do you another personal favor at some time in the future. Imagine yourself giving someone a gift for their birthday. If they thank you sincerely, and make it known how much your gift was appreciated, won’t you be more likely to give them a gift next year?
Emailed thank you messages are okay, and sometimes necessary to get something out quickly, but they just don’t impress the way a mailed one does (also consider hand-delivery through the office secretary for maximum effect!).
Here’s what a personalized, brand-reinforcing thank you note accomplishes so beautifully following an interview, or any other professional encounter:
- Conveys courtesy toward the contact for their time.
- Reminds the contact of you and puts you top of mind again.
- Mentions highlights of the conversation and reiterates your interest in the topic being discussed.
- Provides an opportunity to restate your value proposition and good fit for the company.
- Provides an opportunity to bring up information you poorly addressed or forgot in the discussion.
- Provides an opportunity to ask about the next step in the interview/sales/whatever process.
Send your thank you notes the day of the discussion, if at all possible. Get the full name, correct spelling, and title of each person you speak with before you leave. Ask for their business cards so you don’t have to fumble for paper and pen.
Take a few moments to jot down the following information as quickly after talking with them as possible, while everything is still fresh in your mind. This information will make writing your thank you notes much easier:
1. What key things did they ask you?
2. How did you answer?
3. What answers or info did you give that captured their attention and/or impressed them?
4. What did you tell them about yourself that they said represented important skills or personal attributes for the position’s requirements or organization’s challenges and needs?
5. What concerns did they voice about you?
6. What areas/things did you neglect to mention?
7. What little tidbits about the company did you learn that you can impress them with?
8. How can you reinforce your fit for the job or sale?
A few other points:
- Don’t send generic or canned thank you notes. They’re almost worse than sending nothing.
- Don’t hand a thank you letter to the employer at the end of the interview. You’ll clearly be giving her or him a canned note.
- Don’t forget to sign the letter.
Be generous in sending thank you’s. They can make all the difference in keeping you and your personal brand top of mind with the very people you want to leave a lasting, memorable impression with. Remember, the cost to overnight Fedex a letter to make sure it’s received promptly is a drop in the hat compared with the benefit you stand to gain if things go well.
Be sure to check out this post about different types of thank-you’s and when each might be appropriate. But remember to make each your own!
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An Executive Personal Branding, Online Identity and Job Search Strategist, Meg is a 20-year careers industry professional and one of only a handful of people worldwide to hold the Reach Certified Personal Branding Strategist and Master Resume Writer credentials, both gold standards.
“I love my work collaborating with savvy senior executives and entrepreneurs who know where they’re going, but need help differentiating their unique promise of value in the new world of work and executive job search, and positioning themselves to work their passion. My clients are typically c-suite, senior-level executives and rising stars.”