Your letter could be the tiebreaker between you and two, or even three, candidates so put some thought and effort behind what you say. Even if it doesn’t get you the job, what do you have to lose – the cost of a postage stamp? Hedge your bet it could land you a job.
To send or not to send – will it really make a difference?
Catherine was looking for a business analyst for a position that had been vacant for four weeks. She was eager to hire, but wanted the right person in the job. She had narrowed the field to three candidates, Jim, Kelly, and Steven.
She had promised to call them by Friday, and on Wednesday afternoon she was still vacillating. Each had a strength she was looking for, but each also had some issues that had made her stand back and be objective. Jim had held several jobs in the last few years. Would he stick around for the tough times ahead? Kelly was ambitious, but didn’t have the depth of experience interacting with difficult people. And, Steven was the quiet type who didn’t reveal himself enough for her to get to know what he could offer, particularly interfacing with other departments and working under pressure.
When Catherine opened her email that morning she had 42 emails. She had glanced over them and thought she had seen Jim’s name among the many, but hadn’t taken the time to read it. She had 17 voice mails and there was a one from Kelly, but she only listened long enough to hear that she was thanking her for the interview. She hadn’t heard from Jim.
That afternoon, Catherine closed her door. She was going to catch up and then work on her decision regarding the business analyst position. The first thing she did was open her mail. Among the mail was a letter from Steven. It caught her attention because of the depth she could see he had gone to. She stopped and read the letter.
Choosing the right candidate is not an easy task and I want you to know I have been in your shoes before.
Based on our interview, I have done some thinking about the position and how I could bring added value to your organization and support some of the problems you discussed in during the interview…
What followed was a spreadsheet with the issues Steven had picked up during the interview. He not only identified some of the problems, but also showed how he could be the solution based on past experience. As Catherine read the letter she became intrigued, and liked what she read. This guy not only heard the issues, but he had given them some thought and did some analysis – looked beyond what was said. This was a trait she was seeking. She wanted to talk to him again.
The follow-up, thank you, letter is more than a nice “thank you for the interview.” It is one more chance for you to sell yourself, and to tell them what you can do for them. Don’t assume the interviewer remembers everything you said. When three candidates are interviewed and compared, some of the highlights you hoped would be considered, got lost or forgotten. Remind them of what you can do for them – not what they can do for you.