The Art of The Hand Written Note

I have to go to the post office today because I ran out of stamps.  Do you remember stamps – those sticky little things that you have to put on an envelope in order for the postman to deliver said envelope to another location.  I remember when we used to have to lick stamps to make them stick.  Ah, the good old days.


The reason I ran out of stamps is because I have been writing my thank you notes.  Oh, wait – do you remember those?  They are in the category of hand written notes that seem to have gone by the way side.


I love hand written notes.  I love writing them and receiving them.  Just in their simple existence they convey thought, intention and effort.  Someone was thinking enough of me to actually take the time out of their day to write something, in actual pen and paper, let alone find a stamp to mail the sucker.


Personally as an old fashioned romantic, I am a sucker for a hand-written note or even a card.  Yep, I’m totally girlie that way and I’m ok with it.  Texts and emails are fine, calls are lovely but the hand written notes are divine – at least in my book.


Back to the business side – I encourage, strongly encourage, all my clients to write thank you notes to their interviewer as a follow up.  Not only does it convey thought and consideration, it also conveys that you really want the job.  It takes only a few minutes but makes such an impression.


I had interviewed several times with several people for a position once and after each one I diligently wrote my little thank you notes.  After I was hired my boss said it was a suck up move, I told him it was proper business etiquette.  I also noticed that they kept every one of those notes in my file.  It made an impression.


Writing that note is not as hard as most people fear – it just takes a few minutes of concentrated effort.  Think back to the interview and topics or times that you feel you made a real connection with the other party.  Now is the time to strengthen that bond.  Giving subtle reminders about that moment such as “I really enjoyed hearing about…” or “As we discussed I know my extensive experience in XYZ will allow me to hit the ground running as Position Name”.


Let me caution you – the thank you note is not the time to correct any perceived errors.  If you think that you did not answer a question well now is not the time to say “What I meant was…” because all you are doing is reinforcing the negative.  Let it go, emphasize the positive.  Leave them with a warm and fuzzy feeling.  What if they had already forgotten about your faux pas and here you go reminding them – not exactly what you want to do.


Practice makes perfect.  Make sure you open up Word and type out what you are going to say.  This will help you with the grammar and spelling.  Help – not cover it completely.  Right now I can type “I worked four Merrill Lynch” and the “four” did not get flagged.  Grammar and spell check are tools, not the end all be alls.


I’m a dork, I always type it out first – no matter what the note.  But I’m a horrible speller and the last thing I want to do is prove that to someone.  I know my limitations, and I’m ok with them.


If you are writing a thank you note to a business associate after a meeting you want to follow the same rules – highlight a strong moment and leave it on a positive note.  If there is a strong business connection and potential for referrals then by all means include a couple of your business cards in there.


A well thought out hand written note is an often-forgotten gem.  You just never know how much it could woo the reader and if that job, prospect or partner is worth it a little wooing goes a long way.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

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