A Little Thank You Can Go a Long Way

By Kelly Cleary

It’s graduation season and among other things (celebrations, remember-when’s and see-you-later’s, packing up dorm rooms, obsessively checking email and voicemail as you wait to hear news of interview and job offers…), it’s graduation gift time, which also means it’s THANK YOU NOTE time. If you are a procrastinator, you may simply have a mental list of aunties and old family friends to send little notes to, or your mom may be keeping that list for you. If you fall in the type-A category and you’re also still job searching, as many new grads are, then you might have cranked out those thank you notes and placed them in the post box soon after you received that copy of Dr. Seuss’s “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” and those fantastic cards accompanied by checks, because keeping on top of thank-you notes is one way to feel like you’re in control. And we all know that one of the most frustrating things about searching for a job job is that you have little control over the interview and offer process.

In the same way that sending a sweet little card that says, “Thanks for the ….., it’s just what I hoped for…” makes auntie or granny feel appreciated and reflects well on your character and generally brings on good karma, so does a short thank you note or email to follow up with professional interactions you may have with alumni, prospective employers, and others who work in your field of interest. Of course, this means you should send a thank you after an interview, but it also means you should take the time to send thank you notes to recruiters you meet at career fairs, like the Campus Philly Opportunities Fair on June 15th, and professionals who give you job search advice at professional or social networking events, like the upcoming Penn Alumni Club of Philadelphia socials or the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Network New Member Orientation.

It’s also smart to send a little thank you to your friend’s mom who offered to introduce you to a prospective employer while you were waiting in the buffet line at a graduation party or that friendly gentleman who suggested a few good companies or job search sites while you were sitting next to each other on the train. And all the better if in a few weeks time you send them another note to share an interesting article or a little success story about how their advice helped you progress in your search. While writing thank you’s probably won’t directly speed up the interview process, appreciative follow-ups to these types of interactions will help you cultivate colleagues and mentors  while building a reputation as a collegial, proactive, and respectful professional which will no doubt help you advance your career. The magic connection to the job might not happen immediately, but these exchanges and relationships frequently bring you closer to new opportunities.

Yes, we are talking about networking here. You’ll find tips and resources for networking on our Making Contacts page. And you’ll find a few sample thank you notes on our website and even more on the Quintcareers Thank You Letters Resource for Job Seekers site.

Author: Kelly

Kelly Cleary is the Senior Associate Director of Career Services for College of Arts & Sciences undergraduates.