We’ve been wondering: In our increasingly digital world, have thank-you notes—once a post-interview mainstay—gone the way of encyclopedias and the Yellow Pages?
On one hand, a handwritten note may signal to your interviewer that you’re serious about the position and went the extra mile with a personal touch.
But what if it arrives too late—or the hiring manager finds it outdated?
We asked five people with serious career chops—and discovered the answer isn’t so simple: While some professions have fully transitioned into the digital realm of emailed follow-ups, handwritten notes are still alive and well in others.
Curious which camp your industry falls into? Here’s what recruiting, etiquette and HR professionals had to say on the matter.
Kathy Harris: “The handwritten thank-you note has gone the way of the horse and carriage.”
Managing Director at Harris Allied, an executive search firm specializing in the technology industry
If you’re interviewing for a high-paced tech job, Harris warns against sending a “throwback” card. “I’ve been working in this industry for 16 years and haven’t seen a single handwritten note,” she says. “Tech people embrace email; it’s part of the protocol. If you send a card, you risk appearing irrelevant.”
Plus, the snail-like pace of mail could cost you the job: “The turnaround time is quick enough that by the time you write the card, drop it in the mailbox and it arrives a few days later, the manager has likely already made a hiring decision,” Harris says.
But even though you can toss the notepad, don’t underestimate the importance of following up. According to Harris, if a hiring decision comes down to two equal candidates, a strong thank-you email can be the tipping point. “A well-written and thoughtful email demonstrates your ability to follow through and pay attention, and reinforces your interest in the position,” Harris says.
She suggests emailing everyone who was part of your interview process within one business day. (Gather business cards during the interview so you have their contact information.) And remember: “It shouldn’t be boiler plate,” Harris stresses. “It should sound like your genuine voice and reflect your personal experience.”