Are thank you notes important?
Updated: Mar 18
Were you taught to write thank you notes after your birthday or special occasion? It may have seemed annoying and tedious as a kid, but this skill set will absolutely benefit you as an adult when used as part of a job or internship search. Taking time to follow up with an employer or networking contact is one way to help set you apart from others and establish your professional reputation.
Understand the purpose:
Following up with someone after they have extended a gift, whether a physical gift or a gift of their time or advice, is a meaningful gesture to show your appreciation and signify that you value what they have shared with you. When you are networking or job searching, it can also be used to encapsulate your interest in a position or company and as an avenue to share a little more about yourself. If there was a question you wish you answered differently or later on you thought of a better example for a response, you can use the thank you note as a way to express yourself more.
Recognize the appropriate format: Email, LinkedIn message, or Handwritten
Thank you notes can be emailed, sent through LinkedIn, or handwritten and there is a time and place for each. If you are interviewing for a position and learn that the hiring manager is planning to make a decision within 3-5 days, an emailed thank you note or LinkedIn message will likely benefit you more than a handwritten note because the hiring manager will receive it sooner (and hopefully before the decision is made!). By sending the message via LinkedIn, you are also establishing a connection through the site, which is a great way to continue networking. Keep in mind, an email or LinkedIn thank you note will also be best if your interviewers are working remotely or you are unable to find a physical address for their office space. Alternatively, if the timeline is a little longer and you know in-person work is being conducted, you can choose to write a handwritten note in addition to an emailed or LinkedIn message for a more unique approach. Ideally, you will send your electronic communication within 24 hours and your handwritten note will arrive within several business days.
Personalized yet professional
Writing a different note for each person with whom you interviewed is going to help you stand out. In the note, you can reference a specific topic that you spoke about with each person, which will showcase not only your listening skills, but that the conversation made an impression on you. Remember to keep your language professional with formalities like Dear, please, thank you, etc.
Practice and make it a habit
The more you write these notes, the more comfortable you will become in writing them. You may even find yourself thinking of ideas to follow-up with someone outside of the formal job search context. If you are having trouble getting started, you can use MANGO to guide you through a step-by-step process to write complete, professional networking emails.
Whichever format you choose, make sure you are honest in your content and authentic to you. These notes are one final way to get your skill sets, background, interest, and personality across to the connections you have made.
Employer feedback on thank you notes
Olivia Abrams, HR Analyst, Global Capital Markets Campus Recruiting at Morgan Stanley, shared, “I believe that thank you notes are 100% necessary. They can be helpful when deciding between two similar candidates and also show if the candidate actually took something important away from the conversation or if they simply wrote the thank you note in advance and sent the same one to all their interviewers.”
Madison Kelleher, Associate Director for Experiential Learning at CU Denver, said, “Though not required, I appreciate thank you notes and my team and I have made note when a thank you email was sent. So, I would say it definitely helps. I prefer thank you notes to be sent via email. Ultimately it does come down to the actual interview, application material, and references but in my opinion, the thank you note can really show that they're invested.”
Jennifer Cunningham, AVP of Alumni Relations, Lehigh University, shared, “Email and LinkedIn totally fine. They help, definitely. And if you’re a really savvy applicant, you use them to tell me what you’ve been mulling on from our convo or add more context to an answer you gave.”
Adam Crist, People Experience Manager at NRI Distribution, said, “I’ve always liked receiving thank you notes, it shows that the candidate is committed to moving forward and I definitely think it reflects positively! They only need to be brief but sincere and an email or LinkedIn message works just fine. Unfortunately it hasn’t generally (in my experience anyway) swayed my final decision.”
Nina Giordano, Implementation Consultant at Sprinklr, said, “I wrote personal thank you notes before I started my time at Audible, and I was told it was definitely a key factor in hiring me! Even an email to interviewers is helpful in my opinion.”
Zachary Pion, CPA, Senior Manager at Floor & Decor, said, “I wrote a personal thank you note to all of my interviewers before starting in my current role (sent via email shortly after the interview). I think it's important that the note be personalized and be sent timely. Now in a role where I interview candidates, thank you notes or the lack thereof absolutely inform the decision making process and whether candidates move on to additional rounds.”
Need more help with interview follow up steps?
Check out our Follow Up post where we discuss reaching out after an application, interviewing, or networking.
We highlighted the tool, MANGO, in this post. Browse MANGO’s 3 Key Ingredients for Writing the Perfect Thank You Email.
Lehigh University’s Rauch Center for Business Communication wrote a helpful resource, Follow-Up Email Tips, with points to consider and sample messages.
Want a second (or third) person to review your email draft before you send it? Come to Career Lab, walk in hours in the Center for Career & Professional Development, for assistance. Time, dates and details are found in the Handshake Events tab.