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Farewell to the Handwritten Thank You Note?

Farewell to the Handwritten Thank You Note?

Survey Reveals Email, Phone Call Are Preferred Methods for Post-Interview Follow-Up

Job seekers may want to trade in their monogrammed letterhead for smartphones to thank potential employers for meeting with them. Eighty-seven percent of managers interviewed for an Accountemps survey said email is an appropriate way to express thanks after meeting with a hiring manager, and 81 percent cited phone calls as OK. But, say employers, save the texting for your friends. Only 10 percent of survey respondents take a positive view of text messages as a way to follow up.

No matter which communication method you choose, showing a little gratitude could give you an edge in your employment search, the survey suggests. Most respondents (91 percent) like being thanked by promising job candidates.

The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 500 human resources (HR) managers at companies with 20 or more employees.


HR managers were asked, “How helpful is it for a promising job candidate to send a thank you note following an interview?” Their responses:*
                  Very helpful    59%
                  Somewhat helpful    32%
                  Not at all helpful 10%
* Does not total 100 percent due to rounding.
HR managers also were asked, “Which of the following are appropriate methods for job applicants to thank an employer following an interview?” Their responses:* 
                  Email   87%
                  Phone call     81%
                  Handwritten note 38%
                  Social media 27%
                  Text message     10%
                  Other/don’t know 2%
* Multiple responses allowed.
In addition, HR managers were asked, “Which one of the following is the most common way you receive a thank-you from job applicants following an interview?” Their responses:


                  Email    62%
                  Phone call     23%
                  Handwritten note 13%
                  Don’t know/no answer 2%

One surprising finding was the high percentage of employers who view a phone call as an appropriate way to say thanks, as many job seekers stick to written messages. Employers may welcome a thank-you call from someone who has just interviewed, provided the caller doesn’t overstep by placing multiple calls to check on his or her status as a job candidate. Social media, a channel that didn’t exist a decade ago, also has emerged as a way to touch base with employers.

“When it comes to delivering a thank-you, the message is typically more important than the medium,” said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Job Hunting For Dummies®, 2nd Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). “Following up with hiring managers after the interview shows your enthusiasm for the position and allows you to reiterate the case for why you are the best person for the job.”

Five tips for crafting a professional post-interview thank-you:

  1. Don’t delay. Follow up with a thank-you within 24 hours of the interview so you are still top of mind for the hiring manager.
  2. Restate your value. Recap the qualities that make you a strong fit for the role and convey your enthusiasm for the opportunity. Clarify any unanswered questions and address concerns expressed by the interviewer.
  3. Be specific. Reference particular points from the conversation. For example, if the employer mentioned the position calls for strong knowledge of Excel, highlight the advanced training you took on the program.
  4. Don’t ramble. Keep your message to a paragraph or two, or a few minutes on the phone. Anything longer could make you seem unfocused.
  5. Ask for a second opinion. A trusted friend or colleague should read over your written thank-you note to help spot any typos or unclear language before you hit send or mail it.

Stay tuned for a very special announcement this afternoon from ResumeBear!

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  1. I am surprised by the results considering some job listings specifically state “no phone calls” and it would seem that a hand-written note shows more thought and personalization. However, I do wonder if this perhaps indicates industry-specific trends or if larger generalizations can be made since it was done by a firm that works in accounting and finance. It would be interesting to see similar surveys with a wider audience.

  2. How time flies. At least employers and manpower agencies still spend time to thank their applicants.

    Emails and phone calls are the most practical way in sending thank you message.

  3. I’m amazed by the fact that 81% find a phone call appropriate for a thank-you. I’ve never had an applicant do so, but I believe I would be pretty annoyed if I received a thank-you via phone.

  4. While I’m very surprised that a hand written note isn’t more appreciated, this article is great because it reinforces the need for follow-up.

    That being said, I still think a hand written note is worth the effort – it separates you from the crowd and is definitely something I would do!!

  5. My, how things change. Only a short time ago the written word, on paper, was king.

  6. This is great stuff to know so you a job applicant understands that the rules of the game are constantly changing. Thanks, ResumeBear!

  7. Great survey results and it’s obvious the value of following up is more important today than ever.

    However, I don’t necessarily agree with the headline given that a resounding 91% say that sending a hand written note is “Very” or “Somewhat helpful”. Moreover, given that only 13% of hiring managers receive hand written notes, this is a fantastic way to stand out from the crowd!
    Ken Schmitt
    TurningPoint Executive Search

  8. Had written notes are nice because you know a person took the time to write it. Today people don’t want to take the time and or spend the 45 cents to mail anything. Its so much easier to send a text. It’s instant.
    In the end just follow up by say thatnks period. Its the little things that get you noticed.

  9. This is a great study to show how important a thank you is after a job interview. Whether the interview is in person or through online video, it’s imperative to thank your interviewer for their time. It shows how conscientious you are and restates your interest in the position.

  10. This was an eye opener. Even though we are in the electronic age I would have thought the hand written note would still be appreciated more than email or a phone call.

    As the author stated, the most important point is to FOLLOW-UP.

    Thanks for the suggestions on doing the follow-up.

    I look forward to your announcement later today.

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