A simple “thank you” can often do the trick.

An often overlooked ‘pleasantry’ can be the key to success in finding (and acquiring) your next big career move.  “Nowadays it’s a rarity that is often overlooked by candidates,” claims Tim Moore, President of Tim Moore Associates.  Sending a thank-you note not only displays impeccable manners but also may give you an edge over other applicants.  “In fact, the majority of our clients react quite positively…and surprized, when receiving thank you notes. Sending a thank-you note following an interview can boost your chances of landing the position, quite dramatically.”  However, despite the overwhelming support for these notes, probably less than half of applicants fail to send them.

A thank-you note allows you to express your appreciation for the opportunity; reinforce your interest in the job; and restate the “value-add” that you can bring to the organization.  There are times when a job advertisement or overview given by the firm or recruiter may differ from what the job is actually all about in reality.  The best way for a candidate to truly discern what priorities or skill sets are important and which are not, is through the interviewing process.  “This gives the candidate the ‘edge’ and another often overlooked opportunity to reinforce to the interviewer their skills and abilities based on what they actually heard during the interview,” adds Moore. Composing a thank-you note takes less time than you may think, since this type of message should be only a few paragraphs in length.

Here are some tips to remember the next time you compose a thank-you note following an employment interview:

Make it specific.  Give your letter a personal touch by bringing up specifics points from the conversation you had with the hiring manager.

Write more than one note if necessary.  More and more these days, employers are involving multiple people in the hiring process to get a 360 degree view of applicants.  If you interviewed with more than one hiring manager, send a thank-you note to each person.  Address every letter to a specific individual, even if you have to do some research to uncover the spelling of someone’s name or locate his or her contact information.  Also make sure the content of each letter differs, at least slightly; hiring managers often compare notes — literally.

It has to be immediate.  “It’s the ‘Recency Effect”, offers Tim.  “It really has to be as immediate as you can do it, so that you’re fresh in the interviewer’s mind.  Waiting for a few days – whilst they interview dozens of other candidates, really doesn’t have much affect.”  The ideal would be a handwritten note, that would be over the top; but Tim admits that it’s often hard to do.  “Whatever form, it’s best to send a thank-you note within 24 hours of your interview.  Consider sending a quick e-mail message as soon as you return home from the interview, while it’s fresh in your mind.”

Have someone review it.  “This is the number one problem for most thank you letters”, claims Tim.  “Candidates may have varying English, spelling, grammatical and presentation skills.  The thank you note HAS TO BE impeccable.  It can actually backfire quite badly if it is not. You should always have someone check it over, and always, always, always make sure it’s addressed correctly.”

Plant the seeds for next time. Even if you’re doubtful the interview went well, it’s still wise to send a thank-you note.  For one thing, the hiring manager may have felt the interview was more successful than you did.  In addition, your display of courtesy and professionalism could work in your favor if you cross paths with the person again or another opening arises within the firm.

When competing for your next career move, anything you can do to catch a hiring manager’s attention can give you the edge.  Sending a well-written thank-you note may be just the advantage you need.