In career transition, saying “thank you” says a lot about your social etiquette skills and how prepared you are with your job search. Offering a sincere “thank you” during your job search should take place after:
Networking Events: It’s not necessary to thank every contact you make at a networking event, but it is worthwhile to follow up with individuals that were helpful. That may be someone who introduced you to a potential employer, or someone who provided insight into your job search. Send an Email or hand-written thank you note to anyone you meet at a networking event who is a worthwhile professional contact.
Informational Interviews: Also referred to as reverse interviews, because you are asking questions to someone working in a job or in an industry where you would like to work. You are gaining information about the job/industry, and you are the person asking questions. A hand-written note is often best following informational interviews. Thank the person for their time because working professionals are busy and their time is valuable. When they give up their time to meet with you for an informational interview, they are doing you a favor. Another nice gesture on your part is to offer to take them to lunch where you have the informational interview (you pick up the tab). This gets them out of the office, and who doesn’t enjoy a free lunch and the opportunity to talk about themselves!
Job Interviews: Send an Email and a hand-written thank you note after a job interview. Personalize your message by reiterating your interest in the job and mentioning something you discussed during the interview. The reason I suggest sending an Email and hand-written note is a) the Email will arrive fast, and if they employer is making a quick hiring decision the Email will be received faster than the snail mail hand-written note – your thank you message could impact your candidacy for the position, b) while an Email can be deleted, a hand-written note cannot - it is often placed in the job candidate’s file. I discourage having a note already written that is left with the receptionist after the interview. This lacks sincerity.
Reference Requests: First, always ask permission of the person or persons you list as references. Second, provide them a copy of your resume to remind them of your accomplishments. This gives them talking points about what you’ve done professionally that they can speak about. I suggest listing professional references because they speak of your work experience and ethics; however, some companies may request personal references so you may list those as well. Additionally, you may ask someone to write a reference letter or letter of recommendation on your behalf. Send a hand-written thank you note to people that serve as any type of reference for you. Again, Emails are acceptable, but they can be deleted.
Remember, there’s never an inappropriate time to say “thank you”!