We have 96 intervals of 15 minutes every day, meaning you have many opportunities to make a difference. Each day this month, I’m giving you a 15-minute project idea. Pick your favorites to improve your day, yourself or your world. I promise you have time for this.
In the last decade, I’ve interviewed over 1000 people. And I’ve discovered a few things that really make the right people stand out. Your job search takes time, but if you organize your methods–you significantly increase your chances to get the job you want and set yourself up for success with your new position.
You’ve finished the interview, you’ve asked them the right questions and you’ve given them your best resume. You’re on your way home. You’re relived. Guess what, you’re not done yet. You need to write terrific thank you notes to help you stand out and land the job.
A few years ago, my university (aka employer) did a national search to hire a new director. The VP asked me to be part of the search process. We found a great candidate with tons of integrity. When he was hired, he asked me for suggestions for his department. I gave him 5 pages of realistic, specific improvement ideas. (Lesson: I take sharing my opinion seriously, if you ask me, I will give it to you–but I’ve learned at least to wait to be asked!)
When the director was ready to interview for an assistant director position, he asked me to help him with the process. Of course I was happy to get involved! We interviewed three qualified candidates, but one stood out above the rest. He showed confidence and integrity in his stand-out interview, he brought rock-star resume & resources and he asked us the right questions. And after the interview, he sent the best professional thank you note I’ve ever received.
Prepare during the interview for you thank you notes. During the interview, the assistant director candidate asked everyone in the room for their business cards. As he accepted them, he shook our hand, said our name and put the card in his padfolio. For the people in the room who didn’t bring a card with them, he asked them to write their name, title and email on his padfolio.
Write an outstanding thank you note. Remember, “You are awesome” and you are a great resource for the people who interviewed you. The thank you note is a time to reinforce this fact. Personally, it can make someone’s day; professionally it can seal the deal in landing you the job you want. A hand-written note is nice, but sometimes not necessary. Email is perfectly fine and helps you ensure your thank you reached the intended recipient.
Here is the thank you note you should write: It’s clear, concise reminds me that he was awesome and uses language that means he’s already researched and integrating into the community Then he ends with a bold statement. Terrific! (perspective: Candidate was applying for an assistant director of the Grounds crew–a position that manages outside spaces of our university)
Thank you very much for participating in my interview Friday. You and the others made me feel welcomed and at ease. I hope I answered your questions and convinced you I can help improve the [company name] grounds.
I am very intrigued by the prospect of integrating [company name] grounds into the overall [company name] community. There are many ways that the grounds could support the greater [your company] community of the faculty, alumni, students and marketing. Improving the grounds in a manner responsive and supportive of the community would then allow even more improvement. The [company name] grounds should be an active marketing asset instead of merely a passive, albeit pretty, backdrop. I believe I have the technical knowledge, passion and vision to help [company name] accomplish this.
Attached you will find several pictures that reflect some of my landscaping and maintenance work.
Again, thank you for your time Friday. I hope to hear from [your company] soon. In the meantime, if I can be of service, please contact me.
Assistant Director Candidate
Provide the right extras. A terrific thank you is great and can be enough. But it’s the little things that can really make a difference. This candidate sent each interviewer a great, personalized thank you note, but also included photo samples of his work (shown here). You have items that confirm you are awesome and you should include them. It could be a letter, a sample of your work or a photo confirming what you discussed in the interview. All great ideas to help you stand out.
A final note. About 90% of the time, I hire the candidate that sends me the thank you note. It’s not because of the note, it’s because they proved in the interview that they were the right person for the job and the thank you note reinforced that they understand how to manage the tiny details as well. If they’re organized enough to work the full interview scope well, they’re probably going to work well with me.
I’m sure you’re wondering how many thank you notes I have received through my 1000+ interviews? I’ve received about 200. That means 800 people didn’t realize the power of the thank you note in their job search strategy. Don’t let this be you. You are awesome and make sure I, as your interviewer, am reminded of this at every step of your job-finding process.