Cutting Off Your Thank You Notes To Spite Your Face

Lately there’s been some comments on this site from some pretty ticked off job seekers. After sending thank you notes time and again and never hearing even a peep back – adding insult to injury as they wait to get an actual job offer – they are understandably fed up with the whole hiring process.

And while I totally get how frustrating this is for them, the solution some have come up with makes me sad. They have decided not to send thank-you notes anymore after an interview until they get that elusive offer. At that point, they say, they’ll be happy to send a thank you note or anything else. But until then, no more notes.  I’m thinking “No offer, no thank you!” t-shirts would sell big.

As one job seeker put it:

“The next time that I have interviews on-site, I will do as I always do, which is smile, shake hands and say thank you at the end of each interview. And, no more thank you notes. I have struggled over thank you notes too many times, only to be disappointed when I receive no acknowledgement…”

Again…I get why this person feels this way.  Job search is a demoralizing process that makes you feel like you are shouting into the wind. (I cleaned that up.)

But please don’t let a soulless process keep you from putting out your best effort each and every time. Some places are actually forbidden by the HR team from answering. I’ve worked in areas like that. But it doesn’t mean they didn’t notice.

And it’s not just thank you notes. It’s how you approach each and every interview. Is it with hope or is it with a watchful eye just waiting to be dumped, so that they never really get to see the best you…and you don’t get that one chance to find a job you might truly love.  (A little like dating.)

I know it sometimes feels better, at least on one level, to proceed with caution to avoid feeling hurt. But if you do that, you’ll never get the prize you really want. And you will just wind up building on any hurt you already have.

Hard as it is, PLEASE just give it your all every time – as if you were starring in your very own stage show with a fresh audience waiting to see YOU, truly hoping you’ll be great. And in a way you are starring in a stage show…it’s called “Your Next Job!”

Good luck!

 

About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.

Comments

  1. Karen Bice says:

    Great post, Ronnie Ann, and an issue that I find really annoying, especially in LinkedIn groups. How can a job hunter be taken seriously if they’re complaining that their thank you notes aren’t being acknowledged? Or if they haven’t been contacted after an interview? Or if advertised hourly rates or salary are so low? Even after I’ve provided advice or tips to some job hunters in LI groups who are complaining over these issues, they still complain. I guess playing the victim makes them feel better. Who knows. Anyway, I recently began my first virtual freelance gig (part time) for a marketing firm doing social media community management for one of his clients. I had originally connected to the owner of the firm on Twitter about 6 months back and since then have connected with him on FB and LI. Hopefully, this will open other doors!

  2. I believe it’s rather childish to say essentially, “they were rude, so I will be too!” Worse yet… “I’m going to be rude first from now on!” If no one compliments you for no spelling errors on your resume, will you then put out a resume full of spelling errors?

    I don’t expect someone to tell me “thank you” for the thank you I sent them. And I don’t expect a pat on the back for doing things right in my job search. My job search currently is my job, and I take pride in my work!

    In any case, I have had two former employers tell me later – in one case a few years (!) later – that my post-interview thank you impressed them.

    I love this blog, btw! Well done! and…..
    Thank you! …hee hee

  3. Thank you so much Karen and Denise for your great comments! You added so well to what I was trying to say.

    I’d really like to hear back from other readers who may disagree. Other than this is horribly annoying and could certainly be improved, what are we missing. For me, I’d rather put more action into things I can control like looking for more places to apply and folks to connect to and leave the other stuff to people who may have perfectly good reasons for not acting as we wish they would.

    Love the point you make Denise about your thank you being remembered years later. I never hired someone just because of that, but it sure can leave a nice impression that follows the person even after they’re hired…or next time they apply for a job there.

    Oh Karen…that’s great news. And a reminder how these things really work. Sometimes it takes time, but we can even build a new career while stuck in the waiting game. ;-) Best of luck!!

    • Karen Bice says:

      Thanks, Ronnie Ann! I’m glad I hung in there with Twitter because I have to tell you that at the beginning I not only wondered what I was doing on Twitter, but many times wondered if I was just wasting my time. :)
      @KarenBice

    • Summer Dawson says:

      Ok, another opinion. As a recruiter for many years, a thank you note never really entered in to the decision to hire someone. My job was to match the skills and personality to the job and manager and group. It was ‘nice’ but didn’t change any opinions.

      • Hi Summer,

        Thank you for your perspective as a recruiter. It’s always helpful to know what “the other side” is thinking. You are right of course. Many places are not moved one way or the other by thank-you notes. But some are … in fact we’ve had readers write in to say they were told that it was the thank-you note that got them the next interview.

        I don’t believe that anyone expects to change from un-qualified to qualified with a thank you note. Job seekers hope to continue to make a good impression, and since “chemistry” is a very well-known requirement, once the technical specifications (“fit”) of a job are met, the thank you note is a way to, hopefully, build that positive impression.

        As someone who worked in HR for several years a while back, I view thank you notes the same way I view cover letters –

        ** UP-side: A well-done thank you (like a well-done cover letter) will NOT hurt a job seeker’s chances of landing a job. Worst case, it will be thrown away or simply ignored.

        ** DOWN-side: For some employers, not receiving a well-done thank you (or having a cover letter) WILL do a lot of damage. The job seeker will be immediately eliminated from consideration, or, at least, not ranked as highly as they could be.

        Please note the “well-done” modifier! A poorly-done thank you note (or cover letter) may do very serious damage, possibly more damage than no correspondence at all.

        This post was really about job seeker attitudes as reflected in deciding not to send thank you notes. Ronnie Ann did an interesting post about thank you notes that clarifies and basically agrees with your point -
        Did I Screw-up My Job Interview Thank You Letter?

        Thank you for joining the conversation!
        Susan

  4. Thank you notes are critical regardless of the result. If fact, if a job seeker interviewed unsatisfactorily, the thank you note could be viewed as a clanging cymbal. It is still a necessary component to interviewing successfully.

    • Thanks for the first-hand advice, Mark. I know you help a lot of job seekers. Much appreciated!

      Personally, I’ve hired folks who never sent thank you notes and it wasn’t a deal breaker, but (1) not sending one can leave a negative impression; and (2) sending one can make a good impression. So what’s to lose?

  5. Cafe Patron says:

    A thank-you note is another opportunity to sell yourself by reiterating your strengths, mentioning additional qualifications that you didn’t talk about during the interview, connecting yourself to the interviewer or the company, or neutralizing negative impressions.

    Why would anyone pass up such an opportunity?

    • Hi Cafe Patron!

      Exactly!! So well said. Thanks for the great comment.

      BTW….your name makes me smile. Hope the service has been good. Nice thing about this cafe is tips can come from anyone! ;-)

  6. Denise Lymperis says:

    Hi Everyone,
    I would like to add a tip regarding this issue. I always send a thank-you note within 24 hours or so after an interview. Then, if I haven’t heard anything by two weeks, I send another brief note at that time to let the interviewer know I am still available, very enthusiastic about the position, why I am a good match, and that I am interested in the next step (e.g. meeting with the head of a department/hiring manager). I think this is a good way of reiterating your interest without being annoying. If I don’t get a response within a week or so, I let the whole thing go.

    This is my way of being proactive as well as tactful, and is definitely not acting like a victim. It helps keep me from hanging on indefinitely and going out of my mind wondering what happened, which has happened to me several times. However, it’s always possible to be pleasantly surprised if the interviewer does happen to respond after more than a week.

    My opinion is that if an interviewer doesn’t have the decency to even let me know if the position has been filled after a 2-week post-interview follow-up note, then I would never want to work with that person anyway.

  7. Hi Denise!

    Thanks for sharing your approach. You make some great points.

    The only thing I want to add is that there are many good reasons why even good employers take more than two weeks to get back to people. I wouldn’t rule then out so easily.

    I’ve talked about the reasons elsewhere on this blog, so I won’t go into them now. But I assure you I have worked for companies where we had to take much longer, were not allowed by HR to contact candidates in between, and yet the people in the department where the opening was were wonderful. (Having worked for them myself, I can vouch for that personally.)

    And I’ve also had jobs that took months before I got any feedback – and they were good jobs too, although HR sure could have used some new policies! ;-)

    While I get why job seekers want to come up with time frames that they think are realistic, the interview process, even for a great company, can take a long time. There’s just so much going on behind the curtain you would never even imagine.

    So please be patient. It’s worth it – and good practice for the business world in general. But in the meantime…keep looking!

    And if you’d like to read more about what goes on behind the scenes…

    What the Heck Goes On Behind the Scenes After a Job Interview?

    Good luck!

    • Denise Lymperis says:

      Hi Ronnie Ann,
      Thanks for your compliments. I don’t mean to sound like I’m letting a job prospect go because I’m impatient. I agree that the whole process is extremely slow, but there have been many instances in which I never heard back after a very positive interview, even when I took the extra step of following up. It’s extremely frustrating when you don’t get a response to a follow-up inquiry, which can leave you hanging on. At some point, you need to detach mentally, and this is just my way of doing that. In the meantime, you just might hear back, but at least you won’t be going crazy.

      • Ah! I get that totally. That’s a smart way to look at it. The reason I added my thoughts is that sometimes people write me to say they are letting go of the job totally because of how the job search is being handled and I just want people to know good employers can have bad job search. ;-)

        But I agree that it would be nice to at least hear back, even if just to say we can’t tell you anything more at this point but we do remember you. ;-)

        You do sound great. Hope something good comes your way soon.

  8. Cafe Patron says:

    In his book, Guerilla Tactics in the New Job Market, Tom Jackson recommends following up an interview by calling the interviewer on the telephone. He narrates two examples, one in which the candidate neutralizes a negative impression. In the other, the candidate had sensed during the interview that the interviewer had a backlog of work. The candidate used that bit of intelligence to tell the interviewer how his experience would be useful to getting that work done.

    From these examples, I would infer that follow-up by phone requires preparation, confidence, and a clear understanding of how your background meets the interviewer’s needs.

    • Hi again Cafe Patron!

      One thing I know for sure about job search is that no one style will match every employer. So while I think Tom Jackson’s book has some good advice, my thoughts are (1) The style you use has to match who you are, although revving up your willingness to get out there in support of YOU is a good thing; and (2) the folks I worked with for many years would not have appreciated a call right afterward. Really. They are just too busy going from meeting to meeting while still trying to squeeze in interviews and then trying to get the work done in between. And that was what the interview was for anyway.

      In fact, I remember one woman who undid her chances by trying too hard to get in touch with us to sell herself some more. But if there is something worth adding – not just blatantly pitching yourself – then following up with a note (maybe even a handwritten snail mail note) can make your point and show you respect their time and process. The more it feels like you get the employers needs the better.

      But of course, there are always exceptions, especially if the type of job you’re going after and the environment feels like a follow up call like this would fit in nicely and help showcase the best you. But I’d tread lightly. Guerrilla tactics can also come off as full of yourself and likely to be that way when hired. Personally, I’ve never done the post-interview phone call and have had a great track record of getting hired.

      Just my two cents.

      • I just realized you may be talking about following up after some time has passed. If so, your conclusion is right on: “follow-up by phone requires preparation, confidence, and a clear understanding of how your background meets the interviewer’s needs.” But still, remember you are interrupting their day, have no idea what they are in the midst of, and so present the best you…while keeping it short and respecting their time.

        Would love other perspectives. I know there is no cookie-cutter approach or company!

  9. I recently had an interview ( I commented on a different post about behavioral interviews), and it went so so well! Your advice in your posts and comment helped me so much, and I really believe I aced the interview. I want to thank you for the help! I am now facing a new problem, though..

    I was interviewed by three people, but only one woman gave me her card with her contact information on it. I want to send a thank you note to all three, but now I am not sure what to do. Is it proper to also address them in the note? I also don’t even know their last names, because they introduced themselves only by their first. I want to come across as professional, so I am a bit worried about this!

    Thanks again for your advice!

    • Denise G. says:

      Congratulations on a good interview! I’ve had a similar situation. I suggest calling the front desk if they have one and getting the full names of the other two people. If that isn’t an option, I would send the note to the first individual and say something like “Please convey my thanks to x and y.”

    • Hi A,

      You have a bit of a dilemma. Yes, you should definitely do your best to track down the other two interviewers and send them each a personalized thank you note.

      Denise G. offered a good suggestion — try calling the front desk. If that doesn’t work, why not call the one woman whose contact info you have, explain your predicament (that you’d like to send the other two thank-you’s), ask her to identify them, and provide their contact info or phone numbers.

      This tactic would also serve to keep you top of mind with this interviewer. You might want to start the conversation with a brief nod to the fact that you’re very interested in the position, thank her for her time, and tell her how much you enjoyed the interview.

      Good luck landing the job!

      Meg Guiseppi
      Member of the WorkCoachCafe Team

  10. Rebecca says:

    I have a question regarding thank you notes. I was just interviewed by 6 people at a company for my first interview with them, and I’m going through a temp agency. How do I handle my thank you notes for them? Should I send each one I interviewed with a personalized thank you note directly, should I send one thank you note and include all of them on it, or should I go through the temp agency? It’s a little confusing knowing who they should go to!

    • chandlee says:

      Hi Rebecca,

      I recommend sending your thank you letters to the individuals directly. Why not send three thank yous and put both people’s names (for each interviewing team) on each one.

      Send your letters via email unless you know they have an extended decision-making time.

      All the Best,
      Chandlee

  11. Rebecca says:

    Sorry – I also forgot to mention that the interviews were held in pairs of two. So I had 3 meetings with 2 people each time. Thanks!!

  12. Denise G. says:

    I think its a good idea to send the temp agent you work with a note thanking them for thinking of you as a fit for this employer. They probably rarely get such things and it will make an impression. I’m guessing that they are the ones who chose who to send out for company openings as well. In a way, the temp agency is your employer.

    I don’t know the protocol for interviewing follow-up. My only concern would be that because you are there from the temp agency, it might be perceived as a way to side-step their brokering of the arrangement. I would be sure to mention the agency in your thank you note or email and, if it is an email, to cc: the agency rep. Because of the temp agency arrangement, I would probably only send my thanks to the main person in charge of making the decision.

    At some point, it might be good to ask the temp agent what the ideal protocol is for this situation. It may be different for each agency.

    • chandlee says:

      Denise,

      This is strong advice. Thank you for your input and for contributing to the conversation.

      All the Best,
      Chandlee

    • Hi Denise,

      Thank you very much for your great advice. I agree that the temp agent should also be thanked for their work in pairing me with the opportunity and I have sent that person a thank you email. I also followed Chandlee’s advice above and sent three thank you letters to each interview team. Thank you both for your great advice!

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