Thank You Letters: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Joy Soll
Thank You Letters: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Last month, my mother posted on Facebook (on Facebook!!) that she was upset about the lack of thank you notes from my teenage sons for their birthday checks! She asked some of her friends what they thought and what she should do. It was a lively, online discussion. Her friends’ answers ranged from “giving should be done without the expectation of receiving” to advice to stop sending my sons birthday checks!!

Without swimming around into the murky pond of familial relations, the question that comes up is: Is there a generational difference when it comes to thank you notes, and how as a young person coming into the work world can we look honestly at any difference there might be?

So, I hate generalizations. To say all millennials are a certain way, to me, is offensive. Not only is it a marketing concept that is meant to understand the different generations so that, in short, they can sell you stuff, but it hurts real, diverse, interesting people as well. Therefore, I am going to attempt to write about generational differences without getting into generalizations. Please tell me how I do.

There are a few guiding lights when it comes to thank you notes in the professional world:

1. In the professional world, thank you notes always look good. If you really want the job or want to stand out, always write a thank you note.
2. The older and wiser set seem to like written notes…but to be safe after an important interview, email (within 24 hours) AND write a note to them as well!!
3. The younger and techie set seem to like emails…but keep it short and write professionally, not like you are texting.
4. Write different, original notes to each interviewer if you interviewed with more than one person.
5.Use the note to mention things you forgot to mention and/or sum up your qualifications. If you have done your research, you can talk about what you might do to make things better if you get the job.
6.It is never too late to write a thank you note (just in case you forget).

I work with a recruiter at Enterprise Rent A Car. He has been recruiting students for a long time and I recently presented a workshop to him about how to be successful at a career fair. He said that if a student who he had met at a career fair actually took the time to write him a snail mail thank you letter for the time he took with her, he would be so shocked that he would probably hire the person right then and there. This shows that thank you letters do have the power to get you where you want to go. Don’t forget to write a thank you letter!