Monday, March 12, 2012

The Art of Thank You: The Secret of Success

During my senior year at Stony Brook University, I find myself in a position to give thanks to many people who are crucial to my success. The topic for this blog came from a little book I read by the same title, The Art of Thank You by William James, found in the Career Center’s Library (a great resource students tend to overlook). The Art of Thank You helped me to properly show my appreciation and gratitude to all of the people in my life that helped me further my career goals.

Why write a thank you note?
The purpose of a thank you note is to express your appreciation and gratitude. Some people may think that writing a thank you note is trivial; this could not be further from the truth. In The Art of Thank You, James writes, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” I am a psychology major so this quote really stood out to me; we want to feel like what we do is important and has had an impact on someone’s life. Showing how thankful you are to those who helped you along the way is one of the many ways to accomplish this goal.
When should you send a thank you note?
A thank you note should be sent ASAP. If the thank you note is meant for a professional occasion, like a job interview, it should be written within 24 hours while the interaction is still new.
What kind of thank you should you send?  
In this time and age, an email is a fast and realistic option when writing a thank you note. However, keep in mind that an employer will be expecting impeccable online etiquette. Make sure that the email is professional and that you are writing from the same email address that is on your resume.  To avoid your email being sent to spam, make sure that your subject line is short, but to the point.   
When writing a handwritten thank you note, what paper to use is something you need to consider. Thank you notes can be sent on informal stationary but that doesn't mean it is okay to use a piece of paper torn from your notebook. Find a note card that reflects your personality and that is professionally appropriate, and keep a ready supply on hand. Some stores where you can find thank you note paper are Target, Hallmark, and Wal-Mart. After reading this blog I am sure that you will find plenty of situations where a thank you note will be appropriate, for example, after receiving a gift, for help with an academic project, for offering a sympathetic ear, for being a good friend, for finding your Stony Brook ID, for buying you a meal, etc.
What if your handwriting mimics a doctor’s chicken scratch? A printed thank you note can be a suitable option, or just a thank you email.  
What is an appropriate occasion for a thank you note?
Interview- A thank you note after you have an interview sets you apart from other candidates for the same position. In your note, make sure to reiterate your interest in the position and in the organization. A thank you note can also remind the employer about your qualifications for the position; if you thought of something you forgot to mention in the interview, mention it in your thankyou letter. A hard copy note (not handwritten) is most formal and appropriate after an interview.

Job offer- A thank you note after you have been offered a position is a formal way to accept or decline a job offer. This thank you note will be different from the interview thank you note in that you are letting the recruiter know how grateful you are that they chose you for the position in the company.
Job rejections- Thank you letters should be sent to employers that have offered you a position, but that you have decided not to accept. In declining an offer, you want to express your appreciation for the offer and thank the employer for their consideration. Your objective is to reject the offer, but maintain a relationship with the employer. This continued relationship is important because if you reapply for another position the employer will acknowledge your determination and passion for the company. The world is a very small place, so it’s also a good idea because you never know how networking and making connections will come up!
Recommendations- Most graduate schools, awards applications, and job positions will require you to provide recommendations. The person you ask to recommend you should receive a thank you note. In this case, a personalized, handwritten note would be best.
Thank you samples:
Thank you email for an interview:
This can be found in the Career Center main website under the Students section. This website is a great place that has many resources aside from the thank you sample.
Thank you for an initial interview:
Thank you for an on-site interview:
Acknowledging a job offer, neither accepting nor declining:
Thank you for a recommendation  

Posted by Aline De Jesus
Career Counseling Intern
Spring 2012

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