There was a good post by Alex at Emurse last week on the value to candidates in writing personalized thank-you notes to the interview team after an interview. It was particularly timely, as I received the best thank-you note I’ve ever received in my recruiting career that same week.
Based on my personal experience, less than 10% of all candidates bother to write thank-you notes after an interview. Even in this high velocity, high volume, transactional job market, this is surprising in that every candidate has invested a lot of time and energy to make it to the interview stage in the evaluation process and to ignore this opportunity to create an impression is most definitely a miss. It certainly should play at least a small role in an overall strategy to land a job.
The note I received was from a Stanford MBA that will be joining my team at Google to help with recruiting initiatives as an intern for the summer. As an HR guy, landing a Stanford MBA to focus on recruiting initiatives makes for a Pretty Good Day. She was a standout in the interview process, and very remarkable in the way she presented herself overall. It is not at all surprising her follow up was also exemplary. I’ll call her Shelly (not her real name) since she might not appreciate me blogging about her career plans.
Alex’s post caused me to reflect on why Shelly’s thank you note made an impact but also my broader perspective as a corporate recruiting leader on the value of these little gestures. I’ve referred to them as “Love Bombs” since as long as I can remember… I think it’s something I picked up in the early days of my recruiting career. As in, “that candidate sent me a really good little love bomb after that final round of interviews…”
Thank-you notes matter for a lot of reasons. They matter for all the standard reasons (showing commitment, business etiquette, etc) but I think they matter for two other reasons as well.
Reason 1: As part of an overall strategy, thank-you notes are a way for a candidate to extend the engagement level of the interview process. This is almost always a good thing if the candidate is in contention for the job. A properly executed thank-you note via email will include some additional job-related questions that continues to perpetuate the candidate/interviewer relationship and dialogue. I would actually recommend doing two thank-you notes, one via email with some additional questions, and one hand-written thank you as simply another marketing impression on the interview team.
Reason 2: Thank you notes can convey a unique marketing impression that sets a candidate apart in the selection process, but also begins to advance a personalized relationship with the recipient, regardless of whether the candidate gets this job. If they don’t win the job at stake, this personalized connection is valuable, and can lead to other opportunities in the future. If they do get the job, it strengthens the relationships that ultimately are the bridge in the onboarding process into the new organization, which also pays dividends. I can say the best thank-you notes I’ve received in my career created a nearly indelible memory of candidates I have interviewed… many of them still stand out in my mind today, and this after years and hundreds of candidates and interviews. That is certainly worth the investment on the part of the candidate.
Shelly’s note was special because it wasn’t just a thank-you note. It was hand-written in such a fashion that showed it was weighty to her: carefully scripted and flowing in a way that suggested it was written with great care; not scribbled in the way of most hand-written business writing of today. It was more than a message to say thanks, it was a recap of our conversation that showed a continued investment in the relationship, for purely the sake of investing in the relationship regardless of the job. Yes, she expressed her interest and excitement over the role, but there was much more there than just a sales pitch. It was the type of note that, coupled with her interview, would have solidified the relationship in a way that had she not got the offer, would have led me to call her for other jobs in the future should they become available and be well-suited for her.
Shelly landed the job long before I ever received her thank-you note, but I think it is a great reminder that the little things, even in this day and age, really do matter.