In an age when recruiters express surprise that not all job candidates send thank-you emails after an interview, you’re bound to make a splendid impression by writing a card in longhand. Far from old-fashioned, writing a thank-you card will show that you care enough about the job to take the time for such a personal gesture. Choose an appropriate card and do a little planning before you assign your thoughts to paper, realizing that a limited amount of space will probably force you to be more succinct than if you were to send your thanks by e-mail.
Choose a simple card and one that is blank on the inside so that you can pen your thanks. A small card that says “Thank you” on the front will send the right message. Eliminate thank-you cards that feature fussy flowers, other decorative elements or even your first initial. They will not convey the professional image you desire.
Cut or fold a piece of paper to the same size as your card. Use this paper as a practice piece on which to write your thank-you statement. Cursive writing may take up more room than you think, especially if you are not accustomed to writing in longhand. Plus, you don’t want your message to spill over to the back side of the card. Confine your statement to the inside panel for the best impression.
Address your card to the lead interviewer, the person who set up your interview or the person in charge of hiring – in other words, your main contact at the company. Use the person’s full name; do not let the familiarity of a card lull you into addressing the person by his or her first name.
Plan the four basic messages of your card: you want to thank the recipient for his or her time; express your appreciation of learning more about the job you interviewed for; reaffirm your interest in and qualifications for the job; and close with a wish to hear from the company soon.
Set off these four basic paragraphs by indenting about one-half inch from the edge of the card. Ensure that the four paragraphs fit within the space constraints of the inside of the card, pruning extraneous information where necessary.
Maintain your professionalism by writing a suitable close. Write “Sincerely” and your full name at the bottom of the card, with a bit of space separating the two elements.
Mail your card as soon as possible after the interview – preferably the same day -- to account for mail handling time. If you live in a different zip code than the company at which you interviewed, it may be worthwhile to drive to the post office in that town so that the company receives your card expeditiously.
Your penmanship doesn’t have to resemble calligraphy, but it should be legible. If you’re in doubt, ask someone with good penmanship skills to write your thank-you card for you.
The other benefit of practicing your thank-you statement on a piece of paper is that it will allow you to test the ink factor of your pen. If it runs or creates unsightly blobs, practice with another pen before writing your thank-you statement on the card.