Writing a thank you note after a job interview isn’t an option; it is a requirement. And in PR, a well-written thank you note is crucial—it’s another test of your communication skills.
Mindy Gikas, senior VP of human resources and recruiting at Ruder Finn, says whether an interview is over the phone or in-person, a thank you note is an opportunity to express your interest in the position and separate yourself from the pack.
“This isn’t the time or place to rewrite your cover letter. A few sentences will do the trick, but also remember to reinforce how much you want the position,” says Kathleen Henson, founder and CEO of Henson Consulting.
Here are the who, what, when, where and why of writing a proper thank you note for PR job seekers, courtesy of Gikas and Henson.
- Who: Make sure to send a thank you note to everyone you met with during the interview process. It shows that you are paying attention, interested and professional. Also, personalizing notes helps show your potential employer that you do the same with reporters—a smart pitching tactic. And, often organizations reroute candidate thank you notes, so if your note is exactly same as a colleague's, it won’t make an impact that a customized note will.
- What: In the thank you note, you should include some detail that further expresses your interest in the position, picks up on something that you talked about in the interview or conveys something you wanted to express but didn’t get to in the interview.
- When: A thank you note should be written as soon as possible after the interview. This does not mean write a quick, two-line e-mail in the cab after your interview; this means as soon as you can give it some thoughtful consideration before writing it. An acceptable timeframe is within 24-48 hours after meeting.
- Where: Thank you notes are best sent via e-mail. Although handwritten letters are a kind gesture, they are not the best form for a thank you note. With the short timeframe in which you have to send the e-mail, a handwritten letter just doesn’t make the cut. Also, PR professionals are on their e-mail constantly, but most likely are not checking their mailbox as often. A letter could easily sit there for a day or two.
- Why: The thank you note is imperative because it shows you were paying attention in the interview, you are interested in the position—it provides another glimpse into who you are.
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