Some recent research by Accountemps, a Robert Half Global Company, specialising in providing business with skilled finance and accounting professionals, found that sending thank you notes can tip the scale in a job candidates favour, but only 24% of applicants send one. This is down from 51% in 2007.
At a time when hundreds of people are applying for the same job, writing a thank you note is a way to stand out from the crowd. It demonstrates self-awareness, that you are aware of and acknowledge the time that the recruiter or HR manager has given to interviewing you and spending time with you, that you consider others not just yourself.
It also shows your attention to detail, your ability to follow through to the end of a process.
It’s even better if you just don’t write a generic note but you put some thought into it. If you can tell the recruiter or HR specialist some value you got from the process and how it will help you in the future, you demonstrate reflection and capacity for insight which are two highly sought after qualities in today’s unpredictable environment.
Email or Handwritten Note?
HR managers said that the most appropriate methods were email (94%) and handwritten note (86%).
I have always been a strong proponent of handwritten notes. Why? Because they have great impact and very few people write them anymore. When an envelope arrives in your mail box with a handwritten address, it stands out from the rest of your mail. (Do you even get any post office delivered mail anymore?) It’s the one letter that is opened first. It is the one that is remembered.
We all receive so many emails today that one can very easily be missed. If you have 150 emails there when you open your inbox in the morning, that thank you email may be read but read quickly and too quickly forgotten. A handwritten note, especially if on a card, is often kept standing on a shelf or desk to be viewed often during a day, a week or longer.
A handwritten note, much more than an email, tells the person how important they are to you. You take time to get a card, an envelope and a stamp. You stop to write something which actually takes more time than an email and then you have to take it to the post office. The time it takes to do all that is an indication of the importance you place on your relationship with that person. I have always held on to some words in this regard from Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince, where he says: It’s the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.
Even CEOs Value the Sending of Thank You Notes.
The late Peter Drucker, one of the world’s greatest management experts, attributes much of his success as a leader and manager to the fact that he sent out 12 thank you cards every day.
Naomi Milgrom, arts patron, philanthropist and CEO of one of Australia’s biggest fashion empires – the Sportsgirl/Susan Group – handwrites much of her correspondence, but focuses intensely on it and writes with great care.
Doug Conant, Former renowned CEO of the Campbell Soup Company and a Top 15 Global Leadership Expert, sent 10 to 20 handwritten notes out a day. Over his 10-year tenure at Campbell’s he says he wrote 30,000 notes. It got to the point where he felt something was missing if he didn’t have a chance to do it. He blocked out half an hour a day just to write the notes.
He explained it: “For example, I might have said, ‘I saw you did good work here. You got this lined up and running on time.’ Or maybe I said, ‘You helped us get into this test market ahead of schedule.’ I avoided gratuitous compliments and focused on the business priorities.” He had a part-time assistant who collected reports about what was going on in the company. He would then follow up with those people who had made the contributions to the company by their actions. It was only one of the inspiring interactions that Doug Conant had with his people that he saw as important to advancing the company’s agenda.
Is Social Media to Blame for the Demise of Handwritten notes?
I receive endless requests to “connect” on LinkedIn and Facebook using only the default message. They can’t even put a sentence together to tell me why they want to connect. If for my own reasons I do connect without that reason, I always write a thank you and say that I am intrigued as to why people I don’t know want to connect with me when they don’t say. I say that I look forward to hearing more from them. Often I get no reply and those people either get deleted or tagged as not viable connections. Has technology in all its forms obstructed people’s ability to communicate in writing anymore?
So I leave you with this message about sending thank you notes.
Make an impact with a thank you note, to anyone who has helped or supported your career or business.
Let me push my barrow a little more – make it a handwritten note!