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 advise 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, It can hurt real, diverse, interesting people. So, 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 Enterprise Rent A Car. He has been recruiting students for a long time and I recently presented a workshop with him on 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!

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Joy Soll

Joy Soll works as a Career Advisor at Humboldt State University in the way northern part of California. There, she helps students find jobs/internships and apply to graduate school. She particularly enjoys her job because she gets to help diverse students find their dream experiences. When not doing this you can find her running on the beach with her dog, kayaking in the ocean or hanging out with her two teenage sons and husband.