Think about what makes you feel special. I don’t mean a ‘like’ on your Instagram photo or that time a roommate washed your dishes. What makes you feel like you’ve made an impact?
You’re used to plunking your credentials into an online application. I’m sure you’ve got great ones. But you won’t stand a chance at getting that job if you’re not making a personal connection. A great candidate is someone who can prove that he or she can positively impact the company.
And making an impact is all about the follow-up. You’ve probably heard this a lot, but it’s worth repeating. Companies don’t hire people. People hire people.
Always send a thank you note after an interview, coffee date, or informational interview. And put the time in — don’t just dash off a note or email that feels as impersonal as an online application.
Think of your thank you notes like the Autographs page of a high school yearbook. Are you going to recall every person who wrote “Have a neat summer?” Doubtful. But I bet you remember the friend who took up an entire page or the person who recalled something specific about all the fun times you had together in Calculus.
A vague thank you note is the “have a neat summer” of follow-ups. It makes you anonymous and undercuts your impact. It literally makes you searchable— the kind of person who becomes a name in an inbox as opposed to a memory, a face, or an experience.
That being said, there’s no need to send a wine and cheese gift basket or a Shakespearean sonnet. You don’t need to go over the top to make an impact. Say something specific about your interaction, recall something your interviewer said that resonated with you or a question he or she asked that you found yourself answering the whole bus ride home. Your follow-up doesn’t have to be terribly creative to carry meaning. It needs to be authentic and personal. And despite what you might think, a handwritten thank you note can be as timely as an email. Bring some stationary with you to the interview and afterwards, pop into a coffee shop, jot down your note, and swing back and leave it at the front desk.
An interview thank you note is in itself a loaded statement. Time is a valuable commodity — even informational interviews cost employers time for prep, execution, and finding answers to your questions. When you hand-write your thank you note, you give a little of that employer’s time back, by using a little of yours. Furthermore, when someone gives you an interview, they’re in essence saying, you are worth my time. That’s a leap of faith. That’s a mentor waiting to teach you. We don’t build relationships with people we don’t think are worthwhile. And we certainly don’t hire them. An envelope carries the message thank you for your faith in me, even if you don’t explicitly say it.
And faith is contagious. You never know who is passing around your resume, or who could write you a great rec on your LinkedIn page. People will support you, as long as you show them their faith is not misplaced.
Your card will sit on their desk. It will be shuffled around as they consolidate applications, and it might even land yours on top of the pile. Your potential boss will pick it up, read it again before he finally tosses it. If he tosses it. In retail, they say if a customer holds a product for thirty seconds, they’re 95 percent more likely to buy.
So, do you want them to buy?