Thank You Notes: My Etiquette Take on a Post Office
Sign (February 2014)
By Karen Litzinger, MA, LPC
As soon as I saw the slogan last year, I knew it was a newsletter article:
Brighten Someone's Mailbox Instead of their Inbox
Actually I would suggest it should have said:
Brighten Someone's Mailbox Instead of Cluttering Their Inbox.
I missed getting a picture of this slogan in the fall so here I am despite dog park coat and snow boots!
Part of my inspiration to want to use the display slogan is because a year and a half ago one of my only two physical birthday cards was from a public relations colleague! Just last week I received two thank you notes from my great nephew and niece and it was heartwarming.
When was the last time you received a nice note in your physical mailbox that wasn't a bill or ad? And how did that make you feel? Do you feel like you get overwhelmed with too much email sometimes?
I am always encouraging my clients to send handwritten thank you notes for interviews and networking meetings. (Yes, even instead of the polished Send Out Cards greetings, but those are very nice and far better than email.) It may seem like a lost art, but that is what can help you stand out and personalize relationships.
And I recently learned that this position is now a bit controversial and the landscape is changing.
SURVEY RESULTS AND OPINIONS:
Expressionery:According to a 2013 survey by this stationery company of 1,356 adult Americans, 85% expect a handwritten thank you note rather than electronic message, whether for business or personal reasons.
Accountemps 2007:Of 150 senior executives of Fortune 1000 firms, 52% preferred a handwitten note compared to 44% for email as a thank you following a job interview.
Accountemps 2012:Of 500 HR managers at companies with 20 or more employees, 87% said email was an appropriate method to thank an employer after an interview compared to 38% for a handwritten note. New categories were a phone call with 81% and social media with 27%. Texting came in at 10% and should be avoided.
Career Builder 2011:A survey of 2800 employers showed that 89% of hiring managers said it is ok to send a thank you note as an email. When asked about a preferred method, half said they preferred email.
University of South CA Career Center:In a 2014 informational piece, the results of a recent survey were noted to show that 76% of employers preferred a handwritten thank you note.
Harvard Business Review Blog Network:I thought this 2013 piece had excellent insights, Handwritten Notes are a Rare Commodity. And They're Also More Important Than Ever.
Upon reflecting on the two Accountemps surveys, I wonder if it is just about the changing times or about who was asked the question. Perhaps an HR manager (2012) doesn't want the extra piece of paper, but the executive (2007) would value the extra, more personal effort? When something is rare the values goes up. You stand out and show you took more time, effort and even money to go the extra nine yards.
More on Business Etiquette:
Even Emily Post's site reminds us that a thank you note should always be offered, but the method can vary. Click here for a good article about which communication styles are best for a range of business etiquette situations.
More on the Job Search:
The 2012 Accountemps survey showed that 91% of respondents liked being thanked by candidates. A 2011 CareerBuilder survey noted that 22% hiring managers said they would be less likely to hire a candidate who did not send a thank you. If you learn that the hiring decision will be made quickly or the recruiter is on the road, definitely send an email thank you note, and consider following-up with a handwritten note.
BOTTOM LINE: Send a thank you note regardless of the format (except avoid texts)! And do so ideally within 24-48 hours. By the way, sometimes I DO email thank you's too!!
©2014, Litzinger Career Consulting. Permission granted
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Karen Litzinger, MA, LPC, owner of Litzinger Career Consulting, provides career counseling, job search advising, outplacement consulting, and business etiquette training. More information is available at www.KarensCareerCoaching.com