The Power of a Post-Interview “Thank You” Note

Alyssa Perkins-Chatterton, Administrative Assistant, College Team

It may seem like a simple gesture, but it is one that will go a very long way in making you stand out for all the right reasons after an interview. Sending a thank-you note to an interviewer is something that many candidates forget to do. If you take the time to send a quick note, it ensures that you will stand out from the rest of the candidate pool. The other benefit to a post-interview thank-you note is that you get the opportunity to restate your interest in the position and show the takeaways you learned from the interview. You should not use the thank-you note to summarize your interview and the points you made, however, often times we leave an interview wishing we had highlighted a certain experience more than we did. In your thank-you note, you can highlight this experience and expand on it based on what it seemed the employer was looking for, keeping in mind that you should only bring this up in your thank-you if it is an important thing to know for the role you are interviewing for. It is important that the emphasis of the note is still on thanking the employer for their time and consideration. Making the effort to send a quick note also emphasizes your written communication skills to the employer. Besides your application materials, this will be one of the first times an employer can see how you would potentially be perceived when communicating with clients or customers in this role.

The thank-you note should not be an in depth recap of your interview but a brief note in which you sum up and highlight why you would be a good fit for the position. Be sure to follow-up in a timely manner, if possible, in the same day as your interview.

Your thank-you note will go much further than you may think, it could even be the deciding factor whether or not you, or the person sitting next to you, gets the job.

Here you can find Career Services tips for writing a post-interview thank-you note!


Exploring New Career Paths

It’s that time of the summer when many students are finishing up their summer experiences and thinking about next steps moving forward. Some of you will have had a great summer and confirmed that a particular career field is an excellent fit for you. Others will perhaps have gained valuable experience, but have come to the realization that looking at other career options in the future would make sense. Perhaps you discovered that you didn’t love the particular industry you interned in or maybe the industry was great but the job function was not the best fit. Either outcome is actually very helpful. Even if you have decided that you want to explore other fields moving forward, that is valuable information to have! For most people, career exploration is a very iterative process and what you like / dislike and the rewards you seek through your work will change throughout your life. This is only the beginning! As we approach the start  of the fall semester, consider taking some time now to be proactive about exploring careers, particularly if you have decided that a change in course might be helpful.

Here are three easy and free things you can do to learn more:

Read about it! Current Penn students can access the Vault Career Guides by logging in through the Online Subscriptions link on the Career Services web page. Vault provides a wealth of information on a wide variety of industries and employers, as well as helpful information on job search topics including interviewing or networking.

Talk to People! Take advantage of the Penn network by arranging informational interviews with Penn alumni working in fields that intrigue you. The QuakerNet directory is a great place to research alumni, as is the “Find Alumni” tool under “My Network” in LinkedIn. If you are not quite sure how to request and conduct an informational interview, check out some tips on the Career Services networking page.

Explore Yourself with SIGI 3:  This is a comprehensive career exploration tool that prompts you to analyze your skills, interests, and values and matches the resulting profile to career options. You can access Sigi 3 by logging in with your PennKey and PennKey password via the online subscriptions link on the Career Services website.

Happy exploring!

How to Write a Cover Letter Recruiters Will Read

Tiffany J. Franklin M.S.Ed, Associate Director


Cover letters are one piece of the job search many job seekers would rather skip. In fact, some will only apply to positions that don’t require them. Omitting the cover letter is a mistake. After all, a cover letter is really a marketing piece that allows you to make a strong case (backed up by examples) for why this company should hire you. Why would you miss out on an opportunity to show a recruiter why you are qualified for a position?

As a former recruiter, I would sometimes receive well over 100 resumes for one job posting. When evaluating which ones to interview, the applications with cover letters stood out because it demonstrated that the candidate took extra time and went a step further than other applicants. Cover letters provided insights into how well the candidate could communicate, their attention to detail, and made a case for why I should hire them. The best cover letters were customized. I gained a clear sense of why the candidate wanted that particular job and company. It was apparent the applicant took the time to think about why they wanted that company and role. Conversely, it’s easy to tell when a candidate uses the same generic letter and applies to 50 jobs.

When writing cover letters, you want to show that everything you have done so far has lead you to this job. It’s up to you to craft a story and pull out all your transferrable skills you gained during your academic and internship journey. Your goal is to inspire confidence in the recruiter that you have the skills and motivation to do this job and you have researched the company culture.

Some writers feel the need to list everything they have ever done and hope the recruiter will find something relevant. That strategy backfires because recruiters don’t have that kind of time to sift through extraneous information. Like the opening arguments in a court case, you need to provide the hiring manager the lens through which to view your experience in the first paragraph of your letter. Explain how your unique combination of education, experience, and skills has qualified you to make contributions to their team. Then, use the middle paragraphs to provide evidentiary support through relevant examples. Be sure that the cover letter is not simply restating your resume. Instead, it’s an opportunity to bring your resume to life and tell your story in a compelling way.

Here are a few tips for how to tackle that first cover letter.

1) At the top, include your address and the date

2) Address the letter to an actual person, not a generic “Dear Hiring Manager.” If you can’t find the contact name, Google “LinkedIn Company Name Recruiter” for ideas. Include contact name, title, company name, and address.

3) Opening Paragraph (I LOVE YOU) – Mention position title, requisition number if listed, why you want the company (see mission statement, About Us page), and a sentence stating why you are qualified to contribute to their team.

4) Middle Paragraphs (YOU LOVE ME) – This is the part where you pick 3-4 examples from your experience and bring your resume to life. Through success stories, you demonstrate your ability to do this job and highlight your transferrable skills. These examples should speak to the key skills mentioned in the job description. That job description may list 50 different qualifiers, but usually these can be grouped into a few primary categories.

5) Closing Paragraph (LET’S TALK) – Restate your interest and summarize key qualifiers, how to reach you (contact info), that you’ll be available for an interview, and thank them for the consideration.

The first letter may take a little longer to complete, but it’s worth the time investment. Writing subsequent letters should be easier as you get used to the format. Be sure to have different letters for each industry and job type to which you apply. From there, customize each one to each company and specific position.

There are great samples at The samples are a helpful guide, but be sure to make the letters your own and that they are not too close to the samples. This is your chance to shine and you need to make it unique to your skills. Proofread your cover letter and have someone else read it before applying to any positions. One grammatical or spelling error will reflect poorly upon you, so editing is a must.

Career Services is here to help! We have walk-ins throughout the week and you can schedule an appointment to have an advisor review your resume and cover letter.





Mid-Summer Internship Advice

By: S. David Ross, Associate Director

Difficult to believe that August is almost here and the summer will be ending before you know it. For those of you working this summer, here are some things to consider before finishing your internship:

– Take some time to assess your performance thus far. Some employers have mid-summer performance reviews as a component of their internship programs while others do not. If you have a performance review soon, be prepared to share your accomplishments and contributions. If you have completed a performance review, be sure to implement the feedback and advice on improving your performance – you can also think of ways to take initiative beyond your required duties. And if you do not have a mid-summer performance review scheduled, consider asking your supervisor for a meeting – if that is not feasible, you may want to ask for feedback on your performance to date.

– Carefully continue to cultivate and expand your network at the organization. Be careful with this – do not attempt to simply meet as many people as you can at your office. Try to connect with your colleagues and show your interest in working at the organization by developing your network. Be sincere in your outreach and thankful for the time given from by co-workers. Consider meeting someone for lunch to ask questions and learn more.

– Think about what you want to accomplish during the remainder of your internship. Are you hoping to gain experience in a certain area? Do you want to work on a special project? Do you have an idea for something new and innovative? You may have a chance to accomplish more than you think before your internship ends so brainstorm some ideas now.

– Document your progress in your internship. It can be helpful to have a detailed list outlining what you worked on during your internship so that you can craft strong accomplishment statements on your resume. Be mindful of any confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements you signed with your employer not to share any sensitive information but certainly track your projects and duties carefully to help you recall important details in the future.

– Consider who you may want to ask for references for future employment opportunities. If you already have one or more individuals in mind that is helpful. If you are not sure who to ask at this point, consider the possibilities to avoid having to track down candidates at the last minute. You do not need to ask for references during the middle of your internship but it may be a good idea to start thinking about who to ask at a later date.


As the summer slowly moves along, just a little tip from an Administrative Assistant…  As someone who spends their day assisting others it’s important to feel like what you do matters.  Many of you are in internships, or have gone off to your first full-time positions where there will be those who are in roles like mine.  Roles where they may not get as much of the recognition for what they do.  My advice is to take the time to acknowledge those people.  It may be that their positions are primarily behind the scenes, but their work is essential. Take the time to thank them for what they do.