Yes, you read that right. You need to send thank you cards. Actual thank you cards. As in, written with a pen, stuffed in an envelope, stamp licked (or stuck), thank you cards.
Even in today's digital environment, a proper thank you card has value. It is, in fact, because of digital environment, that a good ol' fashioned thank you card is valuable.
When should you send a thank you card?
After every interview.
Here are some common excuses job seekers use to convince themselves that they don't need to send thank you cards (and why they are wrong).
1. "Postal mail takes too long. The hiring manager said that they are going to be moving quickly to hire someone, so there's no use sending a thank you card via snail-mail." If you have an interview scheduled with Joe Smith at Acme Company at 9 AM on Wednesday morning, you should have the envelope already filled out. Also, before the interview, find out where the nearest post office or mail box is. Buy a box of thank you cards and pre-stamp all of the envelopes with forever stamps. After your interview, grab a thank you card from your car, write inside the card and send it out.
The timing of the mail delivery can actually help you. The last thing you want to be is just another e-mail in their inbox. Chances are, the hiring manager may want to fill the position quickly, but your interview is likely not the final step in the process. A couple of days after the interview the interviewer will get a nice thank you letter from you.
2. "The job doesn't pay enough to warrant a thank you card. I'll send thank you cards once I'm a (fill in the blank)." In my experience, the lower the pay, the fewer thank you cards are sent.
3. "A thank you card alone will not sway the hiring manager's decision." You are correct. Technically. But what if you were competing for that job against one other person with nearly identical experience? That happens more than you might believe. Don't miss out on the opportunity to be gracious and to express interest in getting a job offer. As a hiring manager, I want to know that you really want the job. Enthusiasm is important and can tip the scale.
So, now that I've convinced you to send a thank you card. What do you write?
First, thank the interviewer for their time.
Second, reference something from the interview and tie it back to something you can bring to the position.
Last, express interest in getting a job offer or continuing in the interview process.
Here's a sample of what you might write:
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me this morning. I enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about your company and the position you are looking to fill.
Having recently worked for a company that converted to ABC billing software I can appreciate the hard work your organization is doing to make the same migration.
I believe my project management skills would make me an ideal employee in your department. I am very excited to learn more about your needs and how I may join Acme Corporation.
Thank you again.
Bill Smith 209-555-1212
Of course, there can be exceptions when sending an actual thank you card isn't possible. After a phone interview, for example, when you don't have the interviewers address. In rare cases when it's not practical to send a card, it is okay to send an e-mail, but only when you can't send an actual card.
Now go out and buy some thank you cards and stamps.