How to Screw Up a Thank-You Letter

This is your chance to promote yourself as a great job candidate, so why mess it up?

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Outside Voices - ''Working Girl'' aka Karen Burns

An evil trend is afoot in the job-hunting universe: form thank-you letters.

Can you imagine? That's almost—not quite—worse than no thank you at all!

One, because it's sort of rude. And two, because you're giving up a primo chance to remind your potential employer why you are such a great candidate for the job.

A great thank-you letter repeats the highlights of the interview. It pleasantly and succinctly restates your skills. It says why and how you are the answer to this employer's problems. A great thank-you letter sells you all over again.

You can't get any of this out of a book of "sample thank-you letters."

Books mainly remind you of what not to do, such as:

  • Making spelling or grammar mistakes ("I appreciate you're time....").
    • Misaddressing the letter (thanking Google for your interview with Microsoft).
      • Relying on E-mail (OK to E-mail a quick note, but follow it up with a "real" letter).
        • Handwriting the letter (please type it, on decent paper).
          • Procrastinating (send it as soon as you get back from the interview and be done with it).
            • Sounding desperate ("I just can't wait to hear from you!").
            • All good stuff! Because, in addition to being smart, thank-you letters need to be perfect.

              They're your last chance to impress an employer. Also, unfortunately, your last chance to screw up. Which are you going to do? (Please vote "no" on form thank-yous!)

              Karen Burns, Working Girl, is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, to be released by Running Press in April 2009. She blogs at karenburnsworkinggirl.com.