Thank-you letters are so boring. But you feel compelled to write one because the career books, career counselors and HR managers tell you that is what you are supposed to do. If you don’t do it, then you failed to show professional courtesy. If you do send one, the recipient will appreciate it, but it is rarely the defining factor that gets you the job. Furthermore, they all sound alike. Yawn.
Instead of the traditional, boring thank-you letter, let’s hit a grand-slam home run with follow-up strategies that tip the scale in your favor. Within 48 hours, follow-up with a value-added response. Do not write a letter or e-mail that just restates your qualifications; instead provide something unique that dramatically sets you apart from others. Here’s how: focus on a topic discussed in your interview, and then provide your prospective boss with additional information on that topic. Here are a few examples that illustrate what I mean:
- One of my clients had a great interview for a senior sales leadership position. During the interview, his potential boss discussed how the salespeople were not successfully selling to C-level executives. I had my client follow-up by sending his potential boss a book on C-level selling strategies. His thank-you note looked like this (abbreviated): “Dear Joe, I enjoyed our discussions yesterday on the sales position and on the challenges of selling to C-level executives. Here is a book I recommend to help overcome the selling problem. You might want to pass it among your sales execs. As the vice president of sales, I will provide the leadership to achieve C-level selling success . . . .” He got the job.
- After an interview that focused on the discussion of building strategic alliances, a client sent his prospective boss an e-mail link to a contemporary article on strategic alliances. Another client sent a follow-up e-mail on new products that were going to be launched by a competitor. An administrative assistant sent a list of office organization techniques. TIP: Go to any search engine or news site (like MSNBC.com) and register for “News Alerts.” it’s free and can be a great source for follow-up articles, breaking industry news and relevant information on your targeted companies.
Guaranteed, your innovative and unique follow-up response can be the edge that gets you the job. But here are two more steps to make your follow-up successful:
- Call, write or personally visit your potential boss once a week with a value-added benefit. Do this until you land the job or they tell you the position has been filled. Some career strategists think this is overkill, but my client track record of success teaches that persistence pays off. At the very least, you will usually learn where you stand.
- If you are turned down, write a very cordial thank-you note to HR and, more importantly, to the person who interviewed you, thanking them for their time and consideration. Indicate you would appreciate being looked at for other jobs. If you are really interested in the position or company, follow-up in a month with an inquiry about other opportunities that may have recently opened up. Do NOT rely on the company to get back to you. Even though you were turned down, you may have been “number two” and they will be eager to have you interview for another position.
Whatever happens, don’t get discouraged. Your continued follow-up does nothing but breed good will. Professionalism and persistence produce positive results. Hang in there.