There is no situation more important to your career than the job search. Securing that next position usually requires help—lots of it. So be sure to thank everyone who supports you.
We humans crave appreciation, so it’s important to show others you are grateful for what they have done on your behalf. Doing so is a particular priority in these pandemic days, when people crave that emotional connection.
Showing gratitude will also make you feel happier. Studies show that when we express gratitude, we activate regions of our brain that release dopamine and serotonin—known as our “bliss” neurochemicals.
Here are the people to thank as you move through your job search.
1. Friends, colleagues, and acquaintances
Since getting a job involves networking—those contacts help in landing 85 % of positions—you’ve no doubt reached out to friends and colleagues. You may have even reached out to family acquaintances.
Suppose you’ve arranged a virtual coffee chat with a friend who has an inside track in the industry you’re trying to break into. Or you’ve set up a Zoom meeting with a colleague because she’s in touch with someone who has the “perfect” job for you. Or you’ve asked for a conversation with an executive acquaintance of your family.
At the end of your conversations, thank them. In normal times I’d also suggest mailing a handwritten note. That would be special. But given the WFH protocols most people follow today, an email is usually better. You know it will reach them and not sit unopened in an empty office.
Failing to send that email burns bridges. I once met with a job candidate who sought my advice. I spent over an hour with this individual, reviewing his résumé and cover letter, and sharing contacts. I never got a “thank you” afterward. I would not be likely to help him again, given the lack of appreciation.
2. A recruiter or HR manager
If you’re fortunate enough to land a job interview, be sure to thank the individual who has interviewed you in your closing remarks. Whether it was a video interview or an in-person interview, you’ll want to end on this positive note.
You’ll also stand out if you send a follow up email or handwritten note. Emphasize that you really enjoyed the meeting, are excited about the job and company, and look forward to the next steps. Such a follow up letter reinforces all the positive messages you shared during the interview and shows your enthusiasm and gratitude.
The same thanks should be expressed if you get the job and meet with the HR manager to work out the details—salary, reporting structure, benefits, and all the other perks.
3. A prospective boss
You may get to meet your future boss in the interview process. Many team leaders like to interview candidates who’ll report to them. Writing and thanking them right after the interview (don’t wait more than three hours) is a no brainer. Emphasize all the great things you learned about the job, and how enthusiastic you are about the position.
In the follow-up letter you can also touch upon areas that your future boss has emphasized and your strengths that have impressed him. This way you telegraph yourself as the ideal candidate.
And if you’ve been interviewed by members of that leader’s team, don’t forget to follow up with each of them. They’ll give you a good word if you’ve had a positive discussion and if you show the courtesy of thanking each of them.
4. The VIP who says, “No, but stay in touch”
You may pursue opportunities with executives who don’t have openings. Perhaps you have written to a department head in a firm you have always wanted to work with. You hear back, but find out there are no vacancies.
Follow up with an immediate “thank you.” And don’t give up on that executive. If she honors you enough to say “stay in touch” you have an opening, and should definitely follow up soon enough that she doesn’t forget you. Reaffirm that you admire the company and would love to work there.
Showing appreciation is polite, and also positions you well for any future openings or for networking at a later time. Remember that organizations want people who have excellent interpersonal skills. Showing appreciation demonstrates those skills. It keeps doors open and will prove valuable in each stage of your career.