Most of us feel confident in our ability to write a proper thank you note, but my time in a professional office setting has shown that many excellent job candidates may not be aware of the faux pas they may be making in their own thank you notes.
A thank you note is just like a conversation. The written content in the note is exactly like what you would verbally communicate to your audience. The physical card, the envelope, and your handwriting are the body language in the conversation. We know that body language is extremely important in a professional setting and can give you an advantage over other candidates. The physical card you choose is a last and final opportunity to express your good judgement and set a strong tone of voice for the actual content of your message.
CHOOSING AN APPROPRIATE CARD:
For family and friends go with where ever your spirit takes you. Heartfelt or humorous, they will love it. However, for professional thank you notes (especially when an important job may be on the line) your card decision absolutely matters. Pick a card that is clean, elegant. Make sure the card is of decent quality to show that you are genuinely grateful. No novelty cards!
I learned this lesson quickly while I was working at a small tech company in Pittsburgh.
The thank you note that I sent the hiring manager was a card they must have really enjoyed because they kept the note pinned up on their cubicle wall all year. It was a very small and simple card that was turquoise with a gold foil that said “Thank You”. I bought a box of these at TJMaxx (Yes I am a Maxxinista!) Having a classic and simple card made a lasting good impression and showed that I was earnest in my gratitude.
Another potential candidate for a job at this company sent a thank you note that was written probably just as well as my note, but the card had a photo of a funny bull dog. Everyone at the company loved dogs, and this probably came up in the interview, but the hiring manager and the business manager laughed at the card and said “What were they thinking!” It was a case of laughing at – not laughing with. Their card did not make a good impression. They did not get the job (probably for other reasons that came up during the interview, but this card did not help.) Your last impression may be more important then the first impression.
MAKE SURE YOUR CARD IS GENDER NEUTRAL! I know that statement may sound strange. How does a card have a gender?
If the hiring manager that you interviewed with is a woman do not send a card that has stereotypically female designs. No hearts, no extreme florals and nothing cutesy. You do not know who might open the mail at the office, and this it might come off as inappropriate and juvenile. You do not know this person well at all, so don’t send them something based on what you think they will like, send something that expresses your good taste and thoughtful style.
Below are links to packs of Thank you cards that I would recommend to young professionals. I picked these out because they have an elegant, minimal and neutral design. I tried to list them from least expensive to most expensive.
TARGET: Blue Foil Thank You Cards ($10.99 for 20 cards + envelopes)
TARGET: Creme Gold Border Thank You Cards ($14.95 for 16 cards + envelopes)
RUBY PRESS: Letter Press Thank You Cards ($50.00 for 25 cards + envelopes) I love these because they are modern, and you can customize the color of the card and envelope)
CRANE & CO: Black Hand Engraved Thank You Cards ($19.00 for 10 cards + envelopes)
CRANE & CO: Engraved Gold Script Thank You Note ($19.00 for 10 cards + envelopes)
SNOW AND GRAHAM: Blocks Gold Foil Noteset ($18.00 for 8 cards + envelopes)
SNOW AND GRAHAM: Giotto Gold Foil Noteset ($18.00 for 8 cards + envelopes)
SNOW AND GRAHAM: Lines Noteset ($15.00 for 6 letter press cards + envelopes)
One last thing…
PRO ETIQUITTE TIP:
I learned from the fabulous stationer Sara Hargreaves from Scribe Stationary, that when you write a thank you not on a folded notecard the convention is to only write on the bottom portion of the card (below the fold). I am guilty of filling the whole card above and below the fold with text, but that is not the proper thing to do.
I didn’t even know that was a thing until Sara told me. I absolutely had to share this little bit of etiquette knowledge so that you all can be sure you are doing everything right when you send your future Thank you notes!