Thank you notes

Q: Is it appropriate to send a thank you note after a telephone interview?

A: It is not only appropriate to send a message of thanks after a telephone interview, but a must if you are a job seeker. Often times, it might be better to email a quick note of thanks because speed may be critical at this early stage of the interview process. If the company is a more formal firm (e.g., a law office), you may want to email a note of thanks and then follow up with a typed thank you note on high quality, professional paper.

On a related note, it is even smart to email a note of thanks to those who have offered some type of assistance during your search. Some examples include: contacts who have taken the time to network with you, colleagues who have introduced you to others from their personal or professional network or those who have given advice or counsel on your resume or job search. Particularly if one or more of your contacts has met you in person, these folks in particular deserve a note of thanks. There are lots of people willing to take the time to help others but a note of gratitude is always appreciated. Email is usually an acceptable method of thanks for these types of networking contacts.
One piece of related etiquette advice. There are a few of my colleagues who have shared stories with me. All share a similar thread.
Here is scenario:
A job seeker, “Mary” contacts an employed professional, “Jane” to request Jane’s assistance with her job search. Mary was just laid off and understands that networking is key to any successful job search. Mary contacts Jane and requests a lunch meeting to discuss her job search. Jane generously agrees to meet Mary even though Jane doesn’t know Mary. However, Mary has been referred to Jane through a trusted colleague. Mary emails Jane her resume in advance (very smart of Mary – emailing the resume in advance ensures that Jane has a soft copy that is easy to forward via email AND that Jane has the opportunity to review Mary’s background before the luncheon).
Mary and Jane enjoy a lunch meeting where Jane’s job search is discussed in more detail. Jane jots down a few contacts that might be helpful to Mary and promises to email her additional contacts as well.
The coffee comes and goes after lunch. The check arrives. Hmm… Jane needs to return to work. Mary makes no attempt to pay or even contribute to the bill. Jane finally picks up the tab and pays the bill. After all, Jane needs to return to work.

I share this story of these two fictional people because I hear a variation of this story often. There is a strange lesson in this anecdote about job hunting, networking and etiquette. The bottom line -– don’t invite a contact to lunch, expect that contact to pay when the subject of the lunch meeting is how your colleague can assist in your job search. Alternatives include inviting a colleague for a cup of coffee, iced tea or a bagel. One note – it is different if your contact clearly offers in advance: “I am sorry I have been so difficult to reach. This quarter has been particularly hectic for me. Can you meet for lunch my treat? How is Tues the 10th at noon?”
So yes, always email a note of thanks after anyone offers you time, energy and advice on your search. It makes a difference.

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