Q: My son is graduating from college this month. He is searching for a job. We have been very fortunate since many of our friends and family members have been able to take time to meet with him, either by phone or in person. I have encouraged him to send thank-you notes to each person who has met with him. He tells me that this is old-fashioned. What’s your opinion?
A: This is the classic case of “your parents know best.” I agree with you.
If family members and friends are taking the time to meet with your son and maybe even buying him a cup of coffee or a sandwich, then yes, a thank-you note is appropriate. It doesn’t have to be the old-fashioned note via snail mail though. In most cases, a note via email is fine. A thank-you note via email also has a few advantages for a job seeker. First, it is quick. A thank-you email can and should be sent within a day or two. Second, a resume can be attached to a thank-you email, making it easier for the recipient to forward it to a colleague, friend or other interested party. Although your son should bring a hard copy of his resume to any in-person meeting, it is smart to also send a copy via email. A hard copy can be easily misplaced or quickly show signs of wear. A soft copy can be shared with a network. For example, if an uncle has a soft copy of your son’s resume in his inbox and hears about a job opportunity, it is much easier for him to quickly forward the resume.
If an email address is not available, I would resort to mailing a hand-written thank-you note written on a simple, yet professional note card. Like the email thank-you note, the note card should be mailed within a day or two.
A thank-you note should be written professionally, with no typos or misspellings. Grammar should be checked and the note should be customized. As an example, if an uncle’s love of sailing was mentioned during the lunch meeting, a reference to that would be appropriate.
People often remember who sends them a thank-you note. Manners matter during a job search.
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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.
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Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
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