Friday, March 02, 2012

Should You Send A Handwritten Or Email Thank You Note After An Interview?

Jessica Liebman wrote this post about emails vs. handwritten notes as a follow up from a job interview on the Business Insider Blog.  I fully disagree with her hypothosis that email thank you notes are better than handwritten notes.  My comments follow each of her points:

ANSWERED: Should You Send A Handwritten Or Email Thank You Note After An Interview?

By Jessica Liebman

I'm the Managing Editor of Business Insider, in charge of all our editorial hiring.
I wrote a post last week about the number one mistake people I interview are making these days: They don't send thank you notes. 
If I don't get a thank you note, I assume the person doesn't want the job, is disorganized, and I'll likely forget about them.
The thank you should say a few things:
  • Thank you for meeting (or talking) with me.
  • I really want this job.
  • Quick plug about why I'm perfect for it.
Since my post went up, I've gotten scores of emails asking the same question: Should I send a handwritten or electronic thank you note?
While it varies depending on the industry, I'd strongly suggest going with the email. Here's why:
Dangers of the handwritten thank you:
(Danger? The word itself is leading. There is no "danger")
  • There's a delay. I'm a firm believer in following up with a thank you note less than 24 hours after the interview, while you're still fresh in the interviewer's mind. (This may be true, but if you get it in the mail the day of the interview, and you are in the same city, most people will get it the next day. Thus the person gets it within 24 hours (or 48). Thus, if you are on top of things and not lazy, this point vanishes, so making it an excuse is more on the person who procrastinates than it is on the note itself.)
  • The letter might never get to your interviewer. It could get lost in the mail, the secretary could throw it out, it could end up in a pile of envelopes that don't get opened for months. ( While maybe true... I send lot of handwritten notes and have almost NEVER had this happen. I get 200+ emails a day and almost zero handwritten notes ... thus the you might have this backwards.)
  • It feels old. It's 2012. Sending a handwritten note just feels ancient to me. Especially if you're up for a job in the Internet industry. Be current. (This argument goes back to the beginning of email. I have heard of people getting the job BECAUSE of the handwritten note, never because of an email. Plus, text is more current, so are you saying to skip email? Think about it. Just because something is new does not mean it is right.)
  • The chances of the interviewer writing back to you are less. The letter feels more final. (So the purpose of the note is to get a person to write you back?)
Why the email thank you works:
(Again... a leading headline).
  • You can send it the day of your interview to show just how eager you are. (True. But if it comes too quick it can be creepy. And by text you could send it while sitting in their office during the interview, how eager is good?)
  • You know it will at least find its way into the interviewer's inbox. Whether they read it or not is a different story. ( Email has more filters, so I fully disagree. I have had more emails never be read than handwritten notes.)
  • If the interviewer ever searches for your name in their email, the note will pop up and remind them that you followed up and really want the job. (True. But if your note was so dumb that they don't remember it then you missed the mark. The handwritten note is so unique they wont forget you in the first place.)
  • You can easily tailor it to the vibe of the interview. It can be as casual or as formal as you decide. Handwritten notes always feel too formal to me. (Maybe... but I have the opposite gut feeling .... because email feels to casual to me for something as important as a job you really want. People can easily send an email. The handwritten note takes effort. As a person doing the hiring would you rather hire the skater or the worker?)
  • The interviewer might write back to you. The email will be open on their computer, and there's a bigger chance they'll respond, or ask you a follow-up question, or continue the conversation. (This argument appears twice in your article.... and thus I must have missed the point. I thought the note was about the person who gets the note, not the one who sends it. Maybe I am not getting the vibe of your post, cuz this part sounds selfish. Of course you did type this, so I should be able to fully grasp your vibe without a misunderstanding... because clearly typed is better than handwritten?)

***** Most CEO's tell me the handwritten note matters when they interview people. While an email is fine, they prefer the note as it shows effort (yes, even tech executives have told me this). They also say they get so few notes that it stands out. And yes, I ask this question of CEO's often because I am a corporate trainer and consultant who teaches the power of business relationships.  I am a strong believer in the power of a handwritten note and have rarely seen a reason that makes email better (yes, sometimes email is better, but not most of the time).  

People make this argument of email over notes often, but I often think it is easier to send email, and that is their motivation.  Lazy is not the way to get a job. I think the email route is "Dangerous".

Have A Great Day.

thom singer


Juli Monroe said...

Thom, I completely agree with you. I read the same article, and had most of the same thoughts. You put it so well! Of course handwritten in better to stand out.

Any chance I could reprint this on my blog? It's perfect!

Anonymous said...

You took the bait and wrote about something on BI and by Jessica. All her stuff is what she "feels" not the real facts of the world. But she does think she is special.

Melinda Jane said...

As someone who speaks on behalf of the "millennial generation," I take offense to Jessica's post. It seems as if she's implying that people, of all ages, should keep up with ever-evolving tech advances and be forced to send an email instead of a meaningful handwritten note!

Personally, I think that a thank you email after an interview is sterile & extremely easy. A handwritten thank you note takes time, creativity and appreciation! ANYONE can send an email....but only the ones that stand out, write a handwritten thank you!

I never correlate the word "danger" to a handwritten thank you note! Danger implies a wrong doing from the sender's perspective. What is wrong with a handwritten note? Absolutely nothing!

I can't tell you how many handwritten notes, cards and letters that I have kept over the years, simply because they had that much meaning to me! (Confession: I like to hoard these, according to my 3 full drawers!)

I could not agree more with your comments, Thom! Way to stand your ground about your beliefs! :-)

Take care.

Mary Pat said...

Her comment of "dangerous" is just dumb. Listening to this woman is dangerous.

Diane Barlow said...

I would send an email thank you letter. Reason being is that it is much faster and shows you're up with the times. By the time the employer makes a decision, you're hand written thank you letter might still be in transit.

You can send one after accepting the position, if you want, but by then, you would have the job quite secured.