It's Never Okay Not To Write a Thank You Note

I recently received a thank you note that rubbed me the wrong way. It was from a job candidate I’d interviewed for a position at Nebo. The note could have been a nice gesture; however, I received it three weeks after the interview (and about three weeks after we made the no-go call). To make matters worse, the problems were plenty. There were spelling errors, it was sloppy and it reeked of desperation. The thank you note cemented my decision that this person was not right for our agency. But more than seal the deal on the decision, the card upset me personally because it felt so cheap and lazy.

Yet, I have to give credit when it’s due. At least the candidate wrote something.

The thank you note has fallen out of practice, which is a shame, but that means it’s also an opportunity to stand out. When someone does you a favor, interviews you or grants you a meeting, they deserve a thank you. I love traditional mail, but for work-related thank you notes, email is perfectly fine. After I interview a candidate, if I don’t receive a thank you within the next few days, they’re not getting a call back. Not sending a thank you doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. You’re just not my kind of person and not the kind of person I’d like to work with.

All of us, especially those at the higher levels of industry, should be writing thank you notes. And here’s why: Thank you notes build and nurture relationships and reward good work.

The core of public relations is about building relationships. For example, I write thank you notes to reporters to follow up after a placement runs. The notes help establish a relationship that will hopefully last for many stories to come. I remind reporters their work is read and we appreciate it. They can pretend not to care, and even if they truly don’t, the note keeps me and the agency top of mind. How do we write thank you notes that don’t feel fake or forced? Make it a habit. A one-off relationship, and the accompanying thank you note, will feel fake. But if you make it a habit and grow the relationship over time, it will become natural and meaningful. A thoughtful thank you email can foster a relationship that leads to further connections and further placements.

And even internally at Nebo, I always send a quick thank you email when a coworker helps out last minute or really goes above and beyond on a project. If you appreciate a coworker’s effort or generosity, tell them.

The first thank you note I wrote was to Santa Claus. I was seven, and for Christmas, Santa really delivered with Molly the American Girl doll, a sled and a Barbie convertible (for my Barbie, not for me, but I was nevertheless grateful). My thank you notes served a dual purpose. I wanted to thank Santa, but I also wanted to create an association. I wanted Santa to feel good about giving me presents. The next time Santa thought about presents, I wanted him to think about how good it felt to give me presents. I wanted him to feel the warmth of my gratitude and strive to continue to produce better and better presents. I think the encouragement worked. So channel your inner seven-year-old and write like you have American Girl dolls on the line.

Written by Jenna Thomas on May 21, 2015


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Teena says:

And you are a very petty woman, I never write thank you notes to an interviewer, as my qualifications and skill set along with personality is what matters.....who has the time to write a bunch of jabber when your'e meeting with multiple firms.....and if that's the case that you only hire people based on a thank you note then you suck as a manager.

Jthomas 1 lpx2nyr
Written by
Jenna Thomas
Senior Director, Communications