Whether you're in the middle of a job search or not, it can feel impossible to keep up with all the "must-do's" of building your career. You must have an updated resume. You must network. You must collect recommendations on LinkedIn. And here I am adding another must to your list.
When you should write a thank-you
- After an interview: You should send one to each person who interviewed you, within 24 hours of the interview, thanking them for the opportunity and expressing your eagerness to work together.
- The day after an informational interview: It's important to acknowledge the time and experience someone offered you for free. You also want to leave this connection open for the future by ending with an ask to stay in touch.
- Following a networking event: While not so much a thank you note, but a "nice to meet you" note, this is an opportunity to express the gratitude for the new connections you've made and possibilities for working together in the future.
- After someone makes a professional introduction (to benefit you): Many people are happy to connect two people in their network. Acknowledge the connector with a short note of thanks. It's just good practice.
- When someone serves as your reference: Most jobs require references. Most applicants don't follow up with a note of thanks or even whether they got the job. Don't be this person!
- After someone writes a recommendation for you: Say someone endorses you on LinkedIn or provides a written recommendation for a new opportunity. Take the time to thank them in writing out of respect for their time and generosity with words.
- If someone doles out solid career advice (paid or unpaid): Sometimes people just want to help you out. They aren't required to, but when they do let them know what you found most useful about their advice and how you've implemented it in your career.
- When your internship concludes: Hosting interns is always an add-on to someone's job. Highlight a few things that you learned during your experience and specifics about what this person taught you. End with an ask to keep in touch as you look for a full-time position (especially if you will be calling on them for recommendations or job openings).
- Before you leave your current job: Whether you're leaving on good terms or racing out the door, it's important to thank your supervisor for their leadership (even if you don't see it now, they helped you grow at this point in your career).
- During the holidays: The holidays are a great time to deliver a note to co-workers, bosses, and other connections thanking them for their support and guidance over the past year. Bonus points if you can be specific with 1-2 examples about how this person has helped you in the last 12 months.
Hand-written or Email?
I always err on the side of hand-written because think of this as a lost art-form in the days of texting. I also understand that time may not always be on your side.
For numbers 1-7 above, an email thank-you is sufficient. The only caveat to this is when you're interviewing for a job. In that case you should also follow-up with a handwritten note.
For numbers 8-10, deliver your note in person.
It may seem like a lot now, but taking these steps will solidify relationships that will prove to be crucial as you advance in your career.
Tell me, what circumstances am I missing above that you've found to be appropriate for a professional thank-you note?