My brother-in-law is one of the many recent college graduates competing in this harsh job market for their first real job. Last week, we were talking about the interview process and the topic of handwritten thank-you notes came up. He explained that his generation feels that handwritten notes are “old and cheesy,” and that an email is the better way to go. I disagree and think handwritten is still better despite living in and embracing the digital age.
Before I go any further, I should give a little background. I grew up in Maryland and my mother taught me some of that southern charm. I’m actually constantly teased for writing too many thank-you notes; however, in the end it seems they are always appreciated. I was raised with the following philosophy – you have to write a thank-you note in the following three situations
Someone gives you something… anything.
- Whether it’s a bottle of perfume or a huge check – no matter how big or small the gesture, you have to write a thank-you note
After an intimate gathering at someone’s home.
- Unless it’s a larger, more formal party such as a birthday or housewarming, you need to thank them for having you over. Therefore, if you’re invited for a dinner party, game night or double date cocktail hour, you need to thank them for being a gracious host
After a job interview.
- Hiring managers always interview at least a handful of candidates and a hand written thank-you note can help you stand out (if it’s personalized and mailed promptly)
After a bit of digging, I found a few supporting statistics for my handwritten thank-you case. In fact, a 2009 CareerBuilder.com survey found that nearly 15 percent of hiring managers would not hire someone who failed to send a thank-you letter after an interview.
The handwritten note still seems to be king as the article states, “One-in-four hiring managers prefer to receive a thank-you note in e-mail form only; 19 percent want the e-mail followed up with a hard copy; 21 percent want a typed hard copy only and 23 percent prefer just a handwritten note.”
I should acknowledge that HR professionals have different preferences than hiring managers, as a 2012 survey found that only 38% prefer handwritten notes.
In closing, perhaps there is a compromise in this age, as snail mail takes time. Consider sending an email thank-you immediately after an interview, but to really stand out, also follow-up with a handwritten version.