A thank you email can be challenging, so pay attention to these do’s and don’ts to ensure that your message gets through and makes the best impression:
Send the message immediately after the interview, definitely within the first 24 hours, even if the interview was on a Friday (send it as early as possible on Fridays). You don’t want to be that last interviewee to send a thank you, in case other candidates are also smart enough to send thank you messages.
1. The Content of Your Message
DO send a separate, relatively unique thank you email to each person who interviewed you. Since messages are very easy to forward, expect that your message to Interviewer A will be shared with Interviewer B and C, as well as with HR and possibly upper management.
DO vary the wording, but keep the over all theme (you are qualified and enthusiastic about joining the organization), the subject, the closing, and the timing consistent.
DO NOT copy everyone who interviewed you on one message, and DO NOT send the same message separately to everyone.
2. The Device Used to Send Your Thank You
DO use your personal desktop or laptop computer to send this message.
DO NOT use your tablet or smart phone to write and send this message. It is too easy for unintended changes to be made by the software when auto correction “fixes” the errors it finds. These kind of changes can make you look inept and unable to use something as simple as email.
If you are employed, DO NOT send this message from:
- Your work computer
- While you are at work
If you use your work computer to send your message, your employer may discover the message and your intentions to leave. The result is that you could have a very uncomfortable discussion with your boss about your job search, or you could lose your job.
3. The Email Account Used to Send Your Thank You
DO send the thank you email from the email address used for your application and/or resume to help the employer “connect the dots” between your message and the interview. (Hopefully, for your application/resume, you used a personal email address associated with an account you view often.)
Using the email address on your application/resume should also increase the probability that your message will get through the employer’s spam filters.
DO NOT use your work email address or a silly address email address like MillieJMBA@, SurferDude1@, or other silly/informal addresses. Also skip @AOL, @Hotmail, and @Yahoo — those addresses look “old” to most people now. DO NOT use those email addresses for your job search in the future!
A Gmail address or one associated with your Internet provider, like Comcast or Charter, is fine. Many colleges and universities also offer alumni the ability to use an @[whatever].edu address, which is also acceptable, especially for new grads.
If you are employed, DO NOT send this message from your work email address! You may think it is impressive, but it looks tacky and disloyal to other employers. Again, it increases the probability of job loss or a very uncomfortable meeting with your manager.
4. The Thank You Email Subject Line
DO make the purpose of your message clear with a formal subject line like the examples below. Also, DO use the whole phrase “thank you” in the Subject and the message. But, DO NOT use the informal term “thanks.”
DO keep the subject line shorter than 75 characters, if possible. Many email systems show only the first 40 to 50 characters, so keep that in mind when you write your subject.
DO NOT try to be casual or informal by using a subject such as “Hi!’ or “Greetings!” These subjects have two major problems:
- They don’t look professional.
- They are often caught in spam filters and never seen by a human.
5. The Thank You Email Communications Style
DO use formal business language. While email messages are typically less formal than printed and snail-mailed messages, that doesn’t mean you should be casual in your attitude or language in your thank you message.
DO NOT slip into informality. No emoticons 🙁 and no texting language (LOL).
6. The Thank You Email Message Length
DO keep the thank you email short, not more than 3 to 6 brief paragraphs, but —
- If something you said seemed to resonate with that interviewer — perhaps something you shared about one of your achievements or information you learned about one of their competitors — include a brief statement related to that topic into your message.
- If you “connected” with the interviewer about something, from sports, schools, or a passion for recycling to movies, music, or an interest in sports cars, insert a reference to that connection in your thank you note to help the interviewer remember you.
- Highlight any strength or qualification you have that was emphasized in the job description and/or the interview, particularly if you don’t think the interviewer understood your strength in that area.
DO try to help the interviewer remember you by mentioning something from the interview.
DO NOT write a short, informal note which makes no “connection” with the interviewer. Demonstrate your skill in business communications by writing a note as you would email a potential customer or client.
7. The Thank You Email Closing
DO use a formal closing including your full name, job title or expertise, your contact phone number, and a link to your LinkedIn Profile.
DO NOT close informally with language like —
See you soon!
Staying in Touch After the Thank You’s Are Sent
Hopefully, you will get an email in response to this message. But don’t panic if you don’t hear from them on their deadline. MUCH may be happening that has nothing to do with you at all.
If they said they would contact you in a week, DO reach out in ten business days to see what is happening if they have not contacted you when they said they would. If you forgot to ask when they would be contacting you after the interview, ten business days is a sufficient gap to demonstrate that you are interested, but not a nuisance.
DO NOT contact them daily — or even weekly — for a decision.
Never suspend your job search while you wait for a decision from an employer. Even if the job is your dream job.
Email vs. Snail Mail
While emailed thank you’s are acceptable to most employers, I would urge caution. Particularly if the organization is very formal or “old school.”
If you have been communicating with them via email, a thank you email should be acceptable. But, if you want to demonstrate your understanding of etiquette, send a formal thank you note, too.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Job-Hunt.org!
About the Author: Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.