Learn what to say and how to say it when you want to send a thank you note.
Step 1: Generally Thank the Person for the Kind Act
The first step should be obvious: greet the person and thank them for whatever it is that they did for you. Maybe they gave you helpful advice, maybe they gave you a gift, or maybe they spent time with you (like an interview). The idea is to explicitly recognize that what they gave you was something you appreciated. This part of the thank you is very general. For example,
I wanted to briefly thank you for the opportunity to meet with you on Tuesday.
or perhaps for a personal thank you note
I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the chocolate-covered strawberries that you sent over.
Step 2: Specifically Explain Why You Are Thankful
Step two is usually the most personal part of the note, and it should be unique for each note that you write. In this next sentence or two, you should get very specific. Tell the person why you are thankful. Share a detail you learned during the conversation, or perhaps three more general reasons why you’re thankful.
[Marty note continued…]
The fact that you and Joe share an office indicates the close working relationship that you two have built. I was also very impressed by your strong business acumen, your communication skills, and your professionalism.
[Susan note continued…]
That was just what I needed to lift my spirits. The girls especially enjoyed sharing them with me.
Step 3: Summarize Why They Should Choose You (After-the-Interview Only)
For an after-the-interview thank you note, there are two additional steps that aren’t included in a standard thank you. For interviews, you should use the thank you note as an opportunity to again summarize the primary reasons you think you should be hired. What are the key reason(s) that the interviewer would want YOU to have the job? Imagine you are the interviewer; what could someone say to impress you?. This section can be longer for the hiring manager or key influencers and shorter for thank you notes to others you interviewed with.
In my first example, Marty was a sales manager very focused on the strategic sales process. So here’s what I wrote,
As we discussed, I also strongly support following a strategic sales process that includes flexibility for creative approaches and consistent wins. I am confident that I can leverage my previous sales and pre-sales experience to creatively, effectively, and consistently work with your team to drive results.
Step 4: State Your Interest in the Position and the Company
An important next step in the after-the-interview thank you, which is often overlooked, is to explicitly state your interest in the position and the company. Optionally you might also explicitly ask for what you want. For example,
After meeting you and some of the others on the sales team, I wasn’t surprised that Gartner formally recognized ABC Company’s ability to execute. I think that reflects directly on your abilities, and of course the entire team at ABC. I would like to be part of Joe’s team, and part of the larger sales organization. I hope that you were equally impressed with me and can give me a positive endorsement for the position.
Step 5: Show Appreciation for Being a Professional or Personal Connection
The final part of any thank you note (not just after the interview notes) is to show your appreciation to this person for being a part of your professional or personal life.
Regardless of the outcome, I’m glad we met and I wish you continued professional and personal success.
I know I don’t say it very often, but I am so very grateful that you are such a good friend to me.
So there you have it, Eric, quick and dirty steps to writing a thank you note. Good luck with the rest of your interviews and don’t forget to write and tell us how it went. Maybe you’ll write me a thank you note when you land the job you want! In fact, Eric, I'm sending you a copy of my ebook, Ace Your Interview.
This is The Public Speaker, Lisa B. Marshall. Passionate about communication, your success is my business.
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