How should I write note of thanks?
Q: I just had a second interview with two managers at a company that I am interested in. I'd like to send thank-you letters that do not come across as being obnoxious, boring or trite. I'm having a tough time being creative. Everything I say seems so unoriginal. Any suggestions?
NICK'S REPLY: A thank-you note is an opportunity to extend your contact and to further influence a manager to hire you. A good thank-you note should be a professional communication about THE WORK. Done right, it can give you an advantage.
Keep your letter short. Include information that elaborates on your meeting. It should be strong without being pushy and enthusiastic without begging for the job. For example:
"Thanks for the stimulating discussion. Each time we talk, I'm more intrigued and excited about the prospect of working with you. I thought you might be interested in this article I ran across, on the subject of XYZ, which we discussed in our meeting. Best regards."
On the clipping, hand-write "To: (Manager's name)" and "From: (Your name, phone number and e-mail address.)" This makes it easy for the manager to contact you quickly to talk further. Highlight two or three relevant passages in the article and include a short note or two in the margins. Your comments must relate to the discussions you had and they must provide useful information to the manager. Show the manager you're still thinking about the work and your interview.
Casual thank-you notes from other candidates will be tossed out. Your clipping will likely stay on the manager's desk for some time, and you will be remembered. The clipping may even be routed to others on the manager's team.
Including a relevant clipping and your thoughtful comments emphasizes your focus on what you and the employer have in common — the work you both do — and it points out that you're in touch with the issues. The tone emphasizes that you're a peer, not just some job hunter who dropped in off the street. Try it.
THE HEADHUNTER TIP: Do it like a headhunter.
Approach your job search like a headhunter: Learn to control every interview.
Control stems from understanding what the meeting is really all about. That's how a good headhunter prepares a candidate to win an offer. Learn the headhunter's approach, because it works. (If it doesn't, the headhunter doesn't get paid!)
A hiring interview is about two things: the job and how well you can do it.
Your mission in that meeting is to DO THE JOB, right there where the employer can observe you. The alternative is to answer questions like, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" That's got to be the silliest interview question I've ever heard, but it's what dominates interviews. Such questions have little bearing on whether you can do a job profitably.
A job candidate who controls the interview by revealing the ability to get the work done stands out to the employer.
THE HEADHUNTER CHALLENGE
Finding jobs in the boonies.
Two years ago, you relocated from a big city for a good job at a specialized company in a rural area. You affectionately refer to your small town as "the boonies." Now the company has closed down. There aren't many employers in your area, and you don't really know the business community well. How can you "join the club" and develop your contacts in a sparsely populated area like this?
1. Don't waste your time. Move back to the big city where the jobs are.
2. Start hanging out with the locals.
3. Get your resume out quickly. Your big-city credentials will impress any employer.
4. Check the local newspaper want ads. Online job boards won't help you in the boonies.
Read The Headhunter's expert opinion online at www.appeal democrat.com. Keyword: headhunter
CONTACT Nick at P.O. Box 600, Lebanon, NJ 08833; or www.asktheheadhunter.com.
Not everyone lives and works in a big city. So what happens when your employer, Boonie Technologies, goes belly up? The reality is, your choices are limited, so get in with the good old boys! I use that term affectionately, because the business people in your area are probably sophisticated and talented in their own way.
First, recognize that in narrow quarters there's usually some sort of network of "good old boys" that controls many of the opportunities. (The boys can be girls, of course.) If this bothers you, move. Otherwise, learn to work your way into "the club."
These insiders know and trust one another. It's how they ensure (usually) that they don't waste time when hiring people.
Here are some suggestions on how to get in with the good old boys:
Live with the natives.
Insiders prefer word of mouth, so leave your resume in the drawer. Start spending social time where the local talent hangs out, whether at the health club or the neighborhood bar. If you came from a big city where people separate work from their personal lives, change your attitude. In small towns, there's a sense of community that transcends work relationships. So, mingle. Make friends. Find a sport, hobby or volunteer group that you're interested in and join up. One caution: Don't be mercenary about this. Good old boys can smell a self-serving "networker" a mile away.
Make it personal.
If you're looking for a job, don't make the mistake of asking anyone for job leads. Instead, ask them to tell you more about what they do. Show an interest in their work and get a tour of their company. Have lunch in the cafeteria and meet their friends. Don't talk about a job. Instead, show an interest in other people. That's how you'll get invited to join the club.
Bring the beer.
In the big city, a host will throw a catered party. As a guest, you're not expected to bring anything. In the boonies, you always bring some beer or a dish, because relationships are based more on sharing than on impressing. So, when you're job hunting, don't "present your qualifications." Instead, pitch in and help.
Find out where your local peers take continuing education courses. Join them. Get into a study group. Have coffee together after class. Spend time with the instructor. I guarantee you she knows management at the companies where you want to work. This is where you'll learn what's really up at the local companies.
If you live in the boonies and let yourself become isolated, your options become limited. Participate in your community, and you're more likely to get an open invitation to a good job. Start hanging out with the locals!