By Heather Eagar

How to write a thank you letter to use after an interview, a phone interview, or even to someone who passed your name on to a hiring manager is an art that is not taught as often as it should be by placement services and others who help job seekers with finding jobs. They always cover the basics of resume writing, interview preparation, cover letter writing, how to create a reference sheet, and even how to prepare a salary history, which isn’t even required that often, but how to write a thank you letter is a subject that should be covered. It is a necessary skill that puts the capstone on the interview or other contact you had, makes you appear to be thoughtful and intelligent, and put you above the crowd.

Some hiring managers are so swamped with resumes and cover letters when they post a listing on an online job bank or run a newspaper classified ad that they look for reasons to discard resumes. Having five hundred resumes in your email inbox can be quite intimidating. Some hiring managers have been known to send out an automated response to all applicants letting them know that the resume was received. They will then sit back and wait for further communication. If an applicant knows how to write a thank you letter they have a jump on the competition immediately.

How to do it? As in all formal correspondence it should be block formatted with proper spelling, addresses and salutations. Keep it short—two or three paragraphs. In the first paragraph express your primary purpose by thanking the person you are writing to for their time and consideration. Business people are busy and time is a valuable commodity. In the second paragraph restate one or two key job skills you can bring to the position. Remind the reader as to why you are a good candidate for the job. In the third paragraph, thank the reader again, and reiterate that you are available by phone, email or in person should they have further questions. End with the traditional business ending “sincerely yours”.

An example of how knowing how to write a thank you letter occurred with one job seeker a few years ago at a business brokerage in the Midwest. This job seeker was already working as a part-time telemarketer. She was competing for a full-time office manager position against two other. One of the men had a bachelors degree and the other was about to receive her bachelors. Both had several more years experience in office administration Obviously the other candidates were more qualified than the first applicant, but she knew how to write a thank you letter, and proved it. After her interview with the company owner, the managing broker and the old office manager (who was retiring and helping choose her own replacement) the fist candidate composed a thank you letter. She then printed out individualized copies for each person she interviewed with mailed them that evening. When the interviewers received the thank you letters the next day they were impressed with her thoughtfulness and adherence to protocol. Despite the fact that the other two applicants were more qualified, she was hired. The fact that she knew how to write a thank you letter probably got her the job she was seeking.

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