Posted by Kathy Downs on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - 07:45
This is one in a series of Q&As with Kathleen Downs, a Robert Half Finance & Accounting vice president.
Q. I just finished a job interview for a finance and accounting job. How important is it to follow up with a thank-you letter?
A. Wrapping up the job interview with a thank-you letter is an important but sometimes overlooked part of the process. It can be an invaluable tool, as it shows employers and hiring managers that you appreciate their time and effort, and it keeps you on their radar.
But as with anything career-related, crafting the right thank-you letter involves some forethought. Here are four suggestions for writing a stand-out thank-you letter.
1. Choose the proper format.
Handwritten or email? In our digital age, email might seem to be the obvious format, and in many cases, it is the proper choice. Email delivers your message faster than the postal service and can display your sense of etiquette and appropriate urgency. But before you choose an electronic “thank you,” it’s important to first consider the structure and size of the organization you’re interviewing with. While email might be the best fit for a larger firm, a handwritten note might be more suitable for a boutique or family-owned firm. Recognizing the difference could signal to your prospective employer that you have a strong sense of their company culture.
2. Add personal cues.
If your interviewer mentioned an upcoming vacation or plans for an upcoming birthday celebration, mention it, but don’t succumb to effusive or wordy language. A sentence as simple as “I hope you enjoy your trip to Disneyland” will suffice. This shows you listen well. If personal information isn’t casually offered, don’t try to dig it up online. You don’t want to give the impression that you’re cyber-stalking.
3. Reinforce your interest in the company’s mission and goals.
The thank-you letter is a great format for you to confirm that you are interested in working for the company. It’s a place for you to shine and show you’ve done your research. Briefly summarize salient points from your job interview. You might mention ideas you have for improving the company’s accounting and finance processes. But be mindful not to come across as arrogant or go into great detail. You don’t want to give away your innovative insights before you’re officially hired — nor suggest they are doing something wrong.
4. Keep it short and sweet.
Hiring managers are busy. Your thank-you letter should be concise and to the point. Thank them for their time, restate your interest, tell them you’re looking forward to the opportunity, and conclude. This shows that you have the ability to clearly convey necessary information while being concise and considerate of others’ time.
Before you hit "send" or put your stamped thank-you letter in the mailbox, be sure you’ve proofread it several times. You don’t want to unravel your hard work and let a typo or grammar mistake upend your chance at an exciting new finance job.
Kathleen Downs, a vice president with Robert Half Finance & Accounting, started with the company in 2000. Before that, she was CEO of a recreation/retail/education organization in Bonn, Germany. Kathleen is actively involved with a number of professional organizations within the finance and accounting field and sits on several not-for-profit boards.
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