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Thank you letter and follow-up letter etiquette

Avoiding Follow-up Flip Flops

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With increased competition, do what you can to gain an advantage
Today´s job hunters are faced with stiff competition and fewer jobs to go around. To gain an advantage and walk away with the right job, you must differentiate yourself from your competition. One way to effectively do this is through the use of thank you letters and follow-up letters. They are not only appreciated by hiring managers and human resources staff, they are expected.

"When I don´t receive a thank you letter, I consider the applicant to be rude, unprofessional and ignorant of accepted business practices," says Cathy Layton, owner of a real estate consulting firm based in Sarasota, FL. "On the other hand, my receiving a letter from an applicant doesn´t improve his or her chances of getting an offer."

Go the extra mile
Since thank you letters and follow-up letters are now a part of the job hunting process, job candidates must go the extra mile to stand out in the minds of hiring managers. Sound job hunting demands that you write a thank you letter or follow-up letter to all interviewers within 48 hours of your meeting, but according to John Marcus, a writer for Career Journal, you make a greater impression when you combine a thank you letter or follow-up letter with a follow-up telephone call.

Your initial contact following an interview should always be a well written thank you letter or follow-up letter. These relatively short letters must communicate to the hiring manager that you are grateful for his or her time, and you are more interested than ever in employment with the company.

What do thank you letters and follow-up letters look like?

Thank you letters and follow-up letters can be typed, handwritten or e-mailed. Choose the format that makes the most sense for your situation. Hard copy thank you letters and follow up letters are the most formal and always appropriate after an interview. Handwritten thank you letters and follow-up letters are great for brief notes to a variety of people. E-mail thank you letters and follow-up letters are fine when that has been your means of contact with the person you want to thank.

"Candidates who follow-up by e-mail show respect for my time, which I appreciate," says Steve Kobs, a human resources manager at Hanley-Wood Custom Publishing in Minneapolis, MN. Know which thank you letter or follow-up letter format best fits your situation and use it to follow-up after an interview.

What is included in a thank you or follow-up letter?

When writing a thank you letter or follow-up letter, there are a few things to consider. First, you want to reaffirm anything you liked about the company and how you are qualified to meet its needs. There is no need to be arrogant, but you definitely want to convey that you are capable of doing the job. You also want to take advantage of the chance to mention important things about yourself that you failed to mention during your interview, or to do some damage control if necessary. Your goal in following up is to sell your abilities and experience.

 

Five to seven days after your thank you letter or follow-up letter, you should make a follow-up telephone call. While you are calling to see if they received your thank you letter or follow-up letter, your objective is to establish a rapport with the hiring manager or human resources manager. You want to create a lasting impression on them in a way that sets you apart from the other applicants.

During your follow-up telephone call, take advantage of the opportunity to get clarification about the job for which you interviewed. Ask more insightful questions about the job, the department or the company after witnessing some things first-hand during the interview. Revisit important conversation from the interview while demonstrating any additional knowledge you have acquired through further research of the company and industry.

Suggest a second interview to continue the discussion. Let the hiring manager know that you are a great fit for the company and you want the job "by conveying that you view the position as an excellent career move," Marcus advices.

Thank You letter writing tip:

There is an old saying that the squeaky wheel gets the oil. You must stand out from the other applicants if you want a fighting chance at being hired for the job. Thank you letters and follow-up letters, combined with follow-up telephone calls are a great way to skew the job competition in your favor. There are no guarantees in the job hunting process, but a little extra effort can go a long way. Make the most of your contact with potential employers by putting these thank you letter and follow-up letter tips to work for you.