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Thank-you letters are valuable tools for prospective job seekers and others interested in moving up in an organization. Though they are typically used as a follow up to a successful interview, thank-you letters are appropriate whenever you receive something worth giving thanks for. This could be a gift, a day off, a promotion or even something as simple as special recognition for a job well done or the opportunity to meet with a top executive.
Good thank-you letters serve two primary purposes. First, they show appreciation for the employer’s time and consideration. Second, they provide an opportunity for you to restate your objective as well as your commitment to the firm. According to Monster.com, following up an interview with a thank-you letter also allows you to address any lingering concerns the employer may have about your skills and qualifications.
A well-written thank-you letter to an employer is professional, respectful, polite and sincere. When in doubt, use a standard business letter format with a formal greeting and close. Short, concise letters are typically more effective than long, rambling ones. Pay special attention to grammar and spelling, especially if you are being considered for a position in which attention to detail is critical. A poorly written thank-you letter is self-defeating, no matter how sincere your message.
Use care in crafting a message that presents your strengths in a favorable light while simultaneously thanking the employer. At a minimum, a good thank-you letter to employers includes a statement of gratitude and a suggested course of future action. On the Write Express website, professional editor and writer Alice Feathers recommends a three paragraph letter in which the first paragraph expresses thanks, the second paragraph explains how you can help the employer, and the third paragraph includes a proposed schedule for follow-up.
Send the letter as soon as possible after the meeting or event has completed. The University of Pennsylvania advises students to complete this within 24 hours of every interview. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that you will send the letter. If you have trouble writing, lay out the basic design and structure of the letter before the meeting and then plug in the appropriate language afterward.
Consider substituting a hand written thank-you note in place of a formal business letter. Lisa Vaas of The Ladders suggests that email may also be appropriate, especially when directed to younger managers. Honor and respect the employer's culture. Avoid using humorous cards for handwritten messages. Instead of taking an unnecessary risk, stick with simple stationary that will complement and accent your message. Take your time and write neatly.
Based in Indianapolis, Robert Sharpe is a writer and electronic media publisher. He has been covering career and business matters, environmental issues, sustainability and the economy since 2008. His work has appeared in "Texas Realtor" and other regional publications. Sharpe holds an M.B.A. in finance and accounting from Regis University in Denver.
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