Q. When thanking several people for something on a written document, what is the correct way to list their names? Who should go first, second, third, etc.?
A.First, I applaud you for being smart enough to write any kind of document that includes a thank you. In the worlds of job search and business, the thank yous are too often forgotten. In offices where thank you cards, letters, and even emails are received, reactions are very consistent. When people get a thank you in writing - especially one they did not expect, they pass them around, mention how thoughtful someone was and reinforce everything about that person in a positive way. This helps you if you are a candidate for a job, and if you are already a member of the organization.
If you are sending thank you letters (or emails) after an interview, I suggest you send each participant his or her own letter. Though these letters will have common language, they should not be identical. You want to be able to say something that relates to the conversation you had, and acknowledge that persons contribution to the process. Were they especially knowledgeable about a topic of mutual interest? Did they have insightful answers to some of your questions? Remember these letters will most likely be compared, so stay equally positive, professional, and take the opportunity to reinforce why you have a significant interest in the role, the team, the company, and the success you would bring.
You may want to mention someone you had only a brief interaction with, and may not warrant a letter of his or her own (although there is no harm here), and in that situation, you can add a line saying "Please express my appreciation to Scott - his coordination of the logistics of our meetings was masterful.”
If you still find you need to send a group letter, hierarchy rules. The most senior person is addressed first, followed by others in order of title, or if the person to whom you would report is included, I would list them second.
You may also choose to address the letter to the senior most person, and ask him or her to share your thanks with the individuals, and list their names. People appreciate recognition, and the people who share it.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is a partner and the general manager of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.