Workplace Thank You Notes
By Gwen Parkes
Handwritten thank you notes and cards are an older etiquette formality, but they still apply in today's workplace. "It is never wrong to say thank you, and you cannot say it enough, says Lisa Gaché founder and CEO of Beverly Hills Manners.
In fact, a thank you note is not only a follow-up for an interview or a way of expressing gratitude for an act of kindness in the workplace, but it is your second chance to leave people with a lasting impression of the type of person you are. "You show the prospective employer that you appreciate and respect them and their time," Gaché says.
According to Gaché, in today's competitive workplace you cannot afford to have an attitude of entitlement: "You must show that you are willing to go that extra mile."
When to write a thank you note
1. After an interview.
2. Any time when business is conducted and someone offers an act of kindness. This can include: a referral, a contact who sends you a job lead, a friend who passes your resume along to their HR department, or co-workers who extend their sympathies or congratulations to you in the event of a birth, death or illness.
A quick e-mail will suffice, but a more formal hand written note really shows that you care and appreciate the gesture. "The thank you is determined by how great the gesture is," says Gaché. "Larger more grand gestures -- such as getting someone a job or sending them multiple referrals -- can be grounds for flowers or even dinner. We often say thank you, but making a gesture in kind carries a lot of weight and shows respect when you take the time to properly thank a person."
The anatomy of workplace thank you notes
To be really organized about writing a proper thank you note, Gaché recommends designating a special place to pen your notes. Get your stamps, envelopes, business cards, nice pen and stationery ready so that you are not left scrambling at the last minute for any of these items, since proper etiquette rules say that you should send a thank you note within 24 hours. "This is a 24/7 world where business is always being conducted, and people want and expect thank you notes right away," Gaché says. If you are pressed for time and worry that you may not send the thank you note within one business day following an interview, Gaché recommends immediately sending a thank you e-mail, but following it up with a more formal, handwritten note when time permits.
1. The first sentence should thank the interviewer or the friend for said act of business kindness (interview, referral etc.).
2. The meat of the note is contained in the second sentence. This is your chance to personalize the note by specifying attributes about yourself that distinguish you in some way from other people, or reminders about your interview encounter.
3. Part 3 is when you thank them a second time. "This is key," says Gaché, "because you must show deference," which is why you must repeat the thank you act a second time for it to really be effective and not appear rushed in any way.
4. Closing. This should not be too personal or too friendly. "Kind regards" or "sincerely" work well for closings.
5. Name. Use your first and last name to maintain professionalism and be sure that your writing is clear and legible.
Why thank you notes are important
Sadly, many job applicants and people in general do not take the time to write thank you notes, so thank you notes are a great way to stand out from the crowd. Secondly, writing a thank you note demonstrates professionalism and shows that you are sincere, says Gaché. It also gives you one more opportunity to put your best foot forward. You can show why you are unique and why your skills are a perfect fit for a job.
You can also use a thank you note as an opportunity to add a comment or insight that you didn't fully address in the interview. "It gives you that second chance; but be sure to make your letter specific so that your special qualifications and enthusiasm shine through and your note does not come off as manufactured or generic."
After the face- to- face meeting you have the thank you note. "You want your thank you note to reinforce the impression that you made during the in person meeting, and you want it to be a lasting, positive one," says Gaché.
Never underestimate the power of an older etiquette formality because it would not still be in use today if it was ineffective.