How a Bad Thank-You Note Can Cost You the Job

thanks man


For those fresh out of college and new in the job market, getting an interview can be a daunting task.

Picking out the perfect outfit: scary. Acing the interview: even scarier. But if you think first impressions stop there, you are horribly mistaken. What comes next is the thank you note, and I know what you’re thinking: You’ve been sending thank you notes since your sixth birthday party.

But the thank you note you send after even the most successful interview is unlike any other you’ve sent before, and if you do it wrong, it could be what costs you the job. The first mistake you can make is not sending a thank you note at all, but if you make some of these other errors, you may end up wishing it got lost in the mail.

Sending it too late, doing it via email, being overly generic, being inappropriate, and talking only about the job and yourself could put not only your thank you note in the trash, but your resume too. Here are the five biggest mistakes you can make with a thank you.

  1. Emailing Your Thank You Note

Think about the number of emails your potential employer has to weed through on a daily basis. Chances are, there could be hundreds, and half of them are probably skimmed as closely as your college textbooks used to be. A card sent via snail mail shows true sentiment and effort. Everyone loves getting an old-fashioned letter, right?

  1. Sending Too Late After the Interview

Waiting until the interviewer has either a) forgotten about you or b) become interested in hiring someone else is the wrong way to try to get yourself hired. Since I already suggested sending snail mail (a nickname that doesn’t scream timeliness), a good way to make sure your sparkling hire-me-now letter arrives on time is to send it the day of the interview. This will help with remembering everything you connected on during the interview and personalizing it to a tee. k

  1. Having One Generic Thank You Note for Every Occasion

Similar to cover letters and resumes, a thank you note should be carefully crafted to fit the specific job and person. Having one letter where you change the names in it is an easy way to sound dull and leaves a lot of room for making mistakes. If you need inspiration for unique letters, check out some sample thank yous, but remember to customize each one and let your personality shine through!

  1. Talking Only about the Job and Yourself

In the interview, you had your chance to shine, brag and beyond. In a thank you note, you should be doing exactly that — thanking them. Don’t waste a stamp just to talk yourself up some more. Leave the employer feeling so appreciated and complimented they want to read your note again and again.

  1. Seeming Too Comfortable

Of course you want all of your charm to shine right off the paper the second it’s pulled out of the envelope, but you don’t want to risk sounding too informal. Choose your words carefully, because there are some things you should never say in your thank you note. And definitely avoid being sarcastic or over-confident – you haven’t gotten the job yet.

Once you’ve sent the perfect thank you note, the employer will have no choice but to hire you! Now all you’ll have to worry about is what to wear on your first day of work …


****For this great post, we thank Sarah Landrum!!****

Sarah LandrumAbout Sarah: Sarah Landrum is a recent Penn State graduate, writer, and founder of Punched Clocks. Passionate about helping others find happiness and success in their careers, she shares advice on everything from the job search and career development, to health and fitness, and more! Follow her for more great tips @SarahLandrum


7 thoughts on “How a Bad Thank-You Note Can Cost You the Job

  1. Great post! Hand written cards are great, but I would caution applicants that they don’t want to ignore an immediate follow up after the interview, particularly for on campus interviews. Interviewers will likely hold 5-10 back to back interviews, and may make a decision on next rounds that day or the next. Students risk being forgotten about if they don’t follow up within 24 hours. I would suggest a quick thank you email and then a written card in the mail.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s