By Linda Matias, CareerStrides
A surefire way to separate yourself from a sea of other qualified candidates is to write a follow-up letter after an interview. Most job seekers neglect to write a letter, assuming that once they leave the interviewer's office the interview is over. Well, it isn't. The interview process extends beyond the one-on-one meeting and it is up to you to keep your candidacy in the forefront of the decision-maker's mind.
An effective follow-up letter serves two purposes: (1) It reminds the interviewer of your skills, knowledge and abilities; with the number of candidates they are interviewing, it can be easy to get lost in the crowd. (2) It demonstrates that you remain interested in working for the company and that you were impressed by the organizational culture.
There are several slants the follow-up letter can take, including the following:
Thank the interviewer(s) for the time they took to meet with you and for giving you the opportunity to learn more about the organization and the open position.
Reiterate your interest in the position and draw parallels between what you have to offer and the organization's immediate needs.
Address a concern that came up during the interview or offer new information to a question that was asked during the interview.
Most job seekers don't follow up because they don't want to do the wrong thing. So instead of risking making a bad impression, they choose not to follow up at all. Common questions most job seekers have about following up include:
1) Should I e-mail, hand-write, or type, print, and mail my follow-up letter?
The answer is, it depends. With so many ways of sending communications, you may feel confused as to how to send a follow-up letter. Send an e-mail when a hiring decision is going to be made within the week. This will ensure that your letter gets read before it's too late. A handwritten note works well if you have nice handwriting and if you're sending a card with a quick note; I wouldn't recommend handwriting a note on loose-leaf paper. My favorite, if time allows, is a typed letter that you send through regular mail. The reason why I prefer this method is that it is easy to for a decision-maker to delete an e-mail but most likely, a snail-mailed letter will end up in your file. Again, a snail-mailed letter is not always possible, so do the next best thing and e-mail the letter instead.
2) After interviewing at a company, should I send a letter to all interviewers?
Yes. You should send a letter to each interviewer because each one has his/her own concerns and reasons for participating in the selection process. For example, a direct supervisor may be looking for a new hire that will make her look good to the powers that be. On the other hand, a peer will be looking for a coworker he can get along with when participating in work activities or when grabbing a beer during Friday night happy hour. Having two different audiences means that you can--and should--create two different follow-up letters.
Sample Follow-Up Letter
Ms. Barbara Cortes
876 Lakeland Street
Hauppauge, NY 11787
Dear Ms. Cortes:
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me regarding the paralegal position at Collado, Collado, & Fiore, LLC. After meeting with you and discussing the set requirements, I noted several similarities between your requirements and my past experience.
From our discussion, it seems you are seeking a paralegal that has experience in supporting trial proceedings by organizing evidence for case review; preparing exhibits; maintaining relationships with experts; and scheduling witnesses and ensuring they are present and ready when needed. In my current position with Allen & Associates, I am required to perform all those responsibilities in addition to juggling and managing numerous legal tasks.
Be assured that I can be counted on to get the job done under demanding schedules, and I would enjoy the opportunity to do the same for your organization. What you will expect and get from me as a member of your team is dedication, enthusiasm, and professionalism.
Again, thank you for taking the time to meet with me. I remain interested in participating in the next round of interviews.
Don't underestimate the power of an effective follow-up letter. They have been known to win job offers.