The Fine Art of Thank You Notes

The Fine Art of Thank You Notes
by Megan Denneny
Photos Joe Kathrina | November 10, 2015
Psst: this article covers thank you note etiquette and best practices. If you're looking for a template to help you write a post-interview thank you note, we've got one right here.
A thank you note can distinguish a good candidate from a great one. Make a lasting impression and end on a strong note, via pen and paper...nothing compares.
Much like the art of wine tasting or movie critiquing, the fine art of thank you notes takes time and dedication, but results are always worth it.

In today’s digital age, it’s easy to get swept up in the accessibility of technology. We spend over eight hours at our computers every day repeatedly checking our email inbox and somehow never seem to catch up to the never-ending pinging sound of new mail.  However, you’re in luck because snail mail is an old school way to avoid one more “new mail” notification in your inbox.

When was the last time you received a meaningful letter by mail? (Your grandma doesn’t count.) There is something joyous about opening a tangible note that displays gratitude and appreciation that sometimes doesn’t translate the same way online.

Thank you notes can be sent through email, however, if you’re looking to stand out as a job candidate or want to show a loved one how much you care it’s time to get personal. Dust off your stationary (or go buy some, it’s perfect excuse to go shopping!), grab your favorite pen and get writing.

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PAPER AND PEN MATTER

If your best friend just bought you the wedding gift of your dreams, obviously your note should be written on your favorite neon floral print stationery with fun colored pens. However, that hiring manager you just got done interviewing with may not appreciate your favorite pattern as much. Color and branding matters, so find a balance between playful and professional. Have a selection of cards on hand in order to appropriately address them and match the message you are trying to send.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Just like email, you want your note to get in the hands of the receiver as soon as possible. My advice is to have it already written before your interview and send it directly after you’re done. If you’re sending out thank you notes after an event, do it in a timely fashion. The note won’t have as much of an impact if it is received weeks or months later (ahem, guilty as charged), but at the end of the day a late note is still more meaningful then no note at all.

YOU HAD ME AT HELLO

Ideally, you want to dive into the actual “thank you” part immediately. We are naturally busy creatures so it’s important to get straight to the point.

Example #1: Professional Thank You

Hello Ms. Smith,

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I really enjoyed getting to know more about [name of company].

Best,

[Your Name]

Example #2: Personal Thank You

Hi Jane,

Thank you so much for the gorgeous wedding gift, it was so thoughtful of you to find the perfect color to compliment our new home décor.

Warmly,

[Your Name]

THE MAIN EVENT

This is the part where you mention exactly why you’re thanking them. Express what you specifically learned from the interviewer or how your shiny new mixer just made the tastiest cake you’ve ever eaten. A thank you is thoughtful, but explaining exactly what you learned or how you put a gift to use is a lot more meaningful.

A SOLID ENDING

This is another place you can let your personality shine in a subtle way. Sign off with a cute statement, a favorite quote, or a simple sentiment about how you can’t wait to see or hear from them again. Leaving the note with a call to action will allow the receiver to understand the next steps to come and be on the same page. Remember, you can always send a subsequent message if you forgot to mention something in your main email. Be sure to leave the receiver with a way to follow up in your letter such as your contact information.

Although it may seem a little time consuming, don’t be afraid to stand out. Thank you notes can make all the difference in both personal and professional relationships and can even help you receive a job offer over another applicant. Take a break from your hectic life, embrace snail mail with open arms, and master the fine art of thank you notes.

Have you ever noticed a difference in response after sending an email versus a paper thank you either professionally or personally?