By Don Straits
Original post: The Ladders
Thank-you letters are so boring. You feel compelled to write one because the career books, career counselors, and HR managers tell you that’s what you are supposed to do. If you don’t do it, then you failed to show professional courtesy. If you do send one, it is rarely the defining factor that gets you the job. Furthermore, they all sound alike. Yawn.
Instead of the traditional boring thank-you letter, let’s hit a grand-slam home run with follow-up strategies that tip the scale in your favor. I refer to these as “value-added responses.” They can be used after the interview or after other ongoing correspondence with targeted opportunities.
Send a Value-Added Response: Within 48 hours after an interview, follow up with a value-added response. Do not write a thank-you letter or an email that just restates your qualifications. Instead, provide something unique that dramatically sets you apart from others. Here’s how: focus on a topic discussed in your interview, and then provide your prospective boss with additional information on that topic. Here are a few examples that illustrate what I mean:
One of my clients had a great interview for a senior sales leadership position. During the interview, his potential boss discussed how the sales people were not successfully selling to C-level executives. I had my client follow up by sending his potential boss a book on C-level selling strategies. His value-added response note looked like this (abbreviated):
“Dear Joe, I enjoyed our discussions yesterday on the sales position and the challenges of selling to C-level executives. Here is a book I recommend to help overcome the selling problem. You might want to pass it among your sales execs. As the vice president of sales, I will provide the leadership to achieve C-level selling success. . .”
He got the job.
Other examples of clients who sent value-added thank you responses:
- After an interview that focused on building strategic alliances, a client sent his prospective boss an email link to a contemporary article on strategic alliances.
- Another client sent a follow-up email on new products that were going to be launched by a competitor.
- A candidate for an administrative assistant position send the prospective boss a list of office organization techniques.
It’s guaranteed; your innovative and unique value-added response can be the edge that gets you the job.
Maintain Ongoing Contact: Call, write or personally visit your potential boss once a week with a value-added benefit. Do this until you land the job or they tell you the position has been filled. Some career strategists think this is overkill, but my client track record of success teaches that persistence pays off. At the very least, you will usually learn where you stand.
Future Opportunities: If you are turned down, write a very cordial thank-you note to HR and, more importantly, to the person who interviewed you. Thank them for their time and consideration. Indicate that you would appreciate being looked at for other opportunities. If you are really interested in the position or company, follow up in a month with an inquiry about other opportunities that may have recently opened up. Don’t rely on the company to get back to you. Even though you were turned down, you may have been “number two,” and they will be eager to have you interview for another position.
Whatever happens, don’t get discouraged. Your continued follow-up does nothing but breed good will. Professionalism and persistence produces positive results. Hang in there.