Contributed by Claire Childress, Senior Assistant Director at Virginia Tech Career Services
Thank you. Two words we all like to hear but sometimes don’t hear enough. In the past week, I’ve heard those words from three different students; each time I received their emails, it made my day. My mother was such a stickler for writing thank you notes that five of my lifelong friends read thank you notes to my Mom at her memorial service. Saying thank you was definitely pounded into me, but not everyone can say that. When is a note of thanks called for?
Thanks for your time—a meeting, interview, maybe even a phone call. Recently when I was making a class presentation about interviewing, one student questioned me about writing a thank you note because he thought he would come off as a “brownnoser” (his words). I assured him that rather than be viewed as this, the recipient would consider him a polished professional who knows the proper way to show appreciation for the gift of time out of a busy day meeting with him.
Thanks for the meal. If someone takes you out for a meal, it’s appropriate to send a note of thanks to your host.
Thanks for the gift. I’ve heard of some parents who make their children write thank you notes before they are allowed to play with presents they received. Although my mother wasn’t that strict (and neither am I as a parent), writing thank you’s was a routine during the winter holidays and after other special occasions involving gifts during both my and my two children’s young lives.
Thanks for the training or professional development opportunity. In my almost 20 years of career services work at a state university, I’ve experienced budget cuts more than once. As our office budgets were slashed, our Director, Donna Ratcliffe, never cut our professional development budgets; meanwhile, my SoACE and VACE friends at other colleges were unable to attend conferences, training programs and more as their budgets were reduced. If you really value professional development like I do, then show your appreciation to your supervisor and/or Director by sending a note of thanks after returning from the conference or training program, sharing what you learned—a nice touch that few professionals take the time to write.
Thanks for the raise. When you receive a raise or promotion, thanking your supervisor for supporting this increase is a smart move.
Thanks for being a reference. This is another one that we advocate to students as we talk about references for job searches and graduate school applications. Upon completing the process, thanking those who made recommendations on your behalf is a key action to take. You want to treat your references well, so they will serve in that role in the future.
Thanks. In what form? If possible, putting in the extra effort to write a handwritten note makes the most impact. We all get lots of emails—a hard copy thank you will often stand out. A few years ago I interviewed six students for an HR Intern position to assist me with a career advisor search I chaired. All six candidates were equally strong for varied reasons. How would I ever pick one? One candidate dropped by a typed thank you note. Guess which student I hired? The thank you note made the difference.
A final word of thanks to you for reading this post.
Claire Childress, Virginia Tech Career Services Senior Assistant Director for Job Search and Graduate School Preparation advises students and leads a team of advisors and a portfolio of services and programs. Prior to over 19 years at Virginia Tech, she worked in distance education and as an adjunct faculty member at New River Community College, as a healthcare marketer and as a banker. A former President of the Virginia Association of Colleges and Employers, Claire currently serves as SoACE Director of Professional Development. She writes regularly for her career advising blog, CareerChasse. Connect with Clair at email@example.com or on LinkedIn.