Category: Career Advice
Published on Friday, 28 December 2018 00:00
Written by Cheryl Teo Kai Lin
Showing your gratitude in a professional manner may happen to turn out on opposite ends of the spectrum – sometimes the “thank you” note may come out sounding like boot-licking, or it may come out sounding rather insincere depending on how you write it. Here is how to write a professional and proper “thank you” note that does not sound like the recalcitrant obligatory message or like you are trying to carry someone's balls.
1. Do Not Procrastinate
When it comes to thanking a client, interviewer or a potential boss for their time, don't delay in going about doing it. “Shooting them a note quickly doesn’t look desperate or needy—it looks interested,” says etiquette expert Diane Gottsman, who runs The Protocol School of Texas, a firm that specializes in etiquette training for corporations, universities, and individuals.
After the meeting, you should send a quick email on the same day, followed by a handwritten note within 24 hours. “Often, we worry about doing too much or too little,” she says. “And when that happens, we freeze.” Avoid stagnation by adopting this two-pronged approach for all professional and networking interactions.
2. Send a Handwritten Thank You Note
You may think that snail mail is so passé and inefficient, but after the initial email (which ideally should be sent during business hours before the end of the day of your interview), it will set you apart from another candidate that you may be neck-to-neck with.
3. Write a Rough Draft
Gather your thoughts, mull over the contents discussed in the meeting or interview and put pen to paper for a rough draft.
4. Keep the Note Concise and Make These Three Key Points
Thank the client or interviewer for his/her time, reiterate your interest in working with them, and draw a connection between your experience and the role. This thank-you won’t be all that different from your initial email, says Gottsman: “It’s okay to be a little bit repetitive here. By the time the person receives this thank you, he or she might have met a handful of other candidates.”
Stay true to yourself, and be sincere. Don't hesitate to show a little emotion or enthusiasm. “A hiring manager is looking for someone who’s competent, sure, but they’re also looking for someone who wants this job and plans to stay awhile,” she explains. Keep it short; if you’ve written more than six or so sentences, it’s too long. Open the note with “Dear” and close it with something simple, like “Sincerely" or “Best wishes.” Do not, under any circumstances, put a “Cheers” or a “Fingers crossed!”
5. Take Mind of Your Penmenship and Proofread
In this digital age, there are times few and far in between when we physically write words down. If you need to, practice your penmanship with the rough draft. Once you have penned the note on your rough draft, give it a thorough check and make amendments accordingly before you hand-write it down again on your finalized note. “Nobody’s going to ding you for messy handwriting, as long as they can read it,” Gottsman says. Will someone else be able to tell the difference between an “o” and an “a”? Is everything spelled correctly? If you don’t trust yourself, snap a photo of your note and email or text it to a trusted friend for a once-over.
6. Invest in Some Real Stationery
“It doesn’t have to be expensive,” Gottsman says. “Your cardstock just needs to feel high quality and look professional.” Contrary to popular belief, the card itself needn’t say the words “Thank You!” A better choice: Your initials or monogram, your name, or a small symbol or icon. Keep it simple.
7. Pay Attention to Detail
“In correspondence like this, everything counts,” Gottsman says. “I might not mean to judge you based on the stamp you used. But if your stamp is from, say, a holiday that took place weeks ago, that won’t go unnoticed.” (Ditto if you meter the mail at your current office.) Center the addressee on the envelope and write the return address neatly, too. If you mess up, use a new envelope—don’t merely scratch it out. And make sure the stamp isn’t askew. “These might seem like little things, but when you’re trying to make a great impression, your thank you note is part of your professional image and cachet,” Gottsman explains. “Just like your tie, your blazer, or your portfolio.”