Don’t Forget the Thank You Note!

Tiffany Franklin, Associate Director

Thank You note in blue envelope.

You often hear about the importance of follow through in the context of sports, whether it’s a golf swing or pitching a ball, but the principle is just as important in the context of a job or internship search. After working hard to impress recruiters and hiring mangers throughout the interview process, you want to keep that momentum going and demonstrate to your potential employer that their initial positive impressions were correct. Sending a thank you note is a key step in the process.

Is it really that important?
Over the years, I have served on several search committees and this is a detail that is expected from candidates. It doesn’t have to be too long, but it should be timely and free from errors. You will stand out for the wrong reasons if you don’t send one.
You may ask why is it such a big deal. First, employers do not have much to go on during the interview. Anyone can say they are good communicators or pay attention to details, but showing you are those things makes all the difference. A thank you note demonstrates your interest in the position and is a sign of respect, reflecting that you value the time of the interviewers. Writing a thank you note is also another opportunity to remind the recruiter or hiring committee why you would be a good fit for that role and company.

Timing is everything!
I’m often asked if it’s acceptable to email a thank you. Yes, emailing a thank you note is fine and allows you to send the note within 24 hours of the interview. If you are one of the last people to interview and the hiring committee will make a decision soon, time is of the essence so emailing a thank you note makes sense. For positions I have really wanted, I have also sent a handwritten note as well. Just be sure to change the message slightly so it’s not the exact same thing. Handwritten notes are not as common these days, so it can help you stand out for the right reasons.

Should I include all the interviewers?
Ideally, yes you would send a thank you to each person asking you questions. During the interview, see if you can get business cards of those who interview you or a list of names and titles of the people you meet if they do not have cards available. The person who scheduled the interview should have this. They may or may not be willing to share this info.
At the very least, email a thank you to the main contact who scheduled the interview with you. I once had a 6-hour interview with 14 people and I sent thank yous to each one. It took a few hours, but I believe it was one of the factors that helped me land the job.

What to write
A thank you note can be brief with only 5-6 sentences. Address the person by their last name (Dr. X or Ms. Y) and then write a line thanking them for taking time from their busy schedule to meet with you about the role. Mention how you enjoyed hearing about the department and learning more about the company. Be sure to include a specific detail you discussed in your interview. Finally, briefly talk about why you are interested in the role and how it aligns with your skills (mention the most relevant). For an example, see

Tips and Tricks
Write your thank yous in Microsoft Word or Pages first so you can spell check and won’t be too close to the send email button while in the draft phase. Then, you can either cut and paste into emails or hand write the text after you have it perfected.

When writing notes to multiple interviewers, I start with about three versions of the thank you note and rotate these among the interviewers so they are not all starting with the same sentence. Then, add another level of personalization to each by mentioning something you spoke to that particular person about during the interview. After I’m finished with an interview, I will jot a few notes down about what I discussed and that helps with the thank you writing.

For hand written thank yous, I will buy one of those small boxes of thank you notes you can find at the grocery store, a drug store, or any hallmark or office supply place. I like the small notes because there’s less space to write, so 4-6 sentences will fill up the page. Short and sweet!

Good luck! You are one step closer to landing that dream role.

Photo Credit: kemalbas/iStockphoto

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!



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. 


Cultivating References

Tiffany Franklin, Associate Director

refWhen it comes to the job search, references are an often overlooked or last minute aspect, although they play a key role in the background check employers conduct. You’ll notice that applications ask you to list references when you first apply and then as you move through interview rounds, your prospective employer will ask for them prior to extending an offer.

They ask for these to verify that what you say is accurate in your application materials and during your interviews. If employers are choosing between top candidates, the strength of a reference can make all the difference.

So, how do you select the people to ask and what are the etiquette rules around asking for references?

  1. Make a list of supervisors you’ve had in your past internships, professional jobs, research positions, summer jobs, volunteer work, and your professors/academic advisors. Select the ones that can speak to your work ethic, problem solving, communication skills, leadership ability, specific technical skills, and/or teamwork.
  2. Contact your references, let them know about your job search, and ask if they would be available as a reference and if they could give you a good recommendation.
  3. Compile contact information for these confirmed references including current job title, company name, address, email, and phone number. Add a line about the context in which they supervised you or if you took their class and the dates. Have a sheet of references that accompanies your resume, but is a separate document. There is no need to write “References available upon request” on your resume since it’s a given.
  4. Provide your references updates about your search, including info about the kinds of organizations you are targeting, when they might be hearing from the employer and/or when the written letters of reference are due for your application. Respect their time and be sure to give plenty of notice for written letters.
  5. Keep your references posted regarding your progress in your job search. Be sure to thank them for their help with a formal written thank you note or card.

Keep in mind that it’s much easier to ask for references when you take the time to keep in touch with former supervisors and colleagues every few months. Demonstrate genuine interest in maintaining contact with them and not just when you need something. Get to know you professors by attending office hours and contributing in class. This will help your reference learn more about you and have more insights to provide your prospective employer.

For more questions concerning references, you can make an appointment with a career advisor by calling 215-898-7531 or you can come by during regular walk-in hours.

The 3 F’s of Resume Writing

by Maxine Mitchell, Graduate Assistant

3 tips for students preparing their resumes for summer internships and full-time opportunities:

Please, please, please keep your resume on one page! Choose a form/style that is aesthetically-pleasing to you, and easy to read. Play around with the placement and titles of each section. Utilize shading, spacing and underlining to draw the readers’ eyes to particular words, phrases and roles. The white space on your resume is as important as the content.
While some fields tend to be flexible about resume formats from potential candidates, others remain quite traditional. Take note of your roles of interest, and do a bit of research to learn more about company culture. We strongly encourage you to preview the resume samples available on the Career Services website for assistance, as they reflect the varying academic/extracurricular experiences of students at Penn.

When selecting a resume font (and there should only be ONE), please keep in mind the industry(ies) that you’re applying to. Maintain consistent formatting throughout your resume. Make use of the list of action verbs available on our website to put forth a detailed and concise description of your roles and activities. Prioritize, consolidate, and cut when necessary. After completion, proofread for spelling AND grammatical errors. Career Services offers resume and cover letter critiques – an opportunity for you to get another set of eyes on this important document.

Last, but not least, have fun! There is no one way to create a resume, so feel free to explore formats, styles and fonts!