Whatever Happened to Thank You Notes?

Sunday, April 10, 2011
We've been interviewing candidates for a summer internship position at work in my department, but only one person followed up with a thank you email, and it was only sent to my boss; not to me and not to the other coworker in our department who's met with each applicant. This person was offered the internship and accepted it, but it behooves me why she didn't think I was worthy of a thank you email for taking the time to meet with her, particularly after I gave her my business card (major HINT) and even a package of branded goodies from the supplies closet.

To be perfectly blunt about it, this really burns my ass and pisses me off. When I was job hunting out of college, it was drummed into my head by numerous job hunting advice articles that you *always* send a thank you note to *every* person you interviewed with, and I always did, provided you really wanted the job. But even if I didn't, and the interview went well, I'd usually let them know that it wasn't a match but I'd thank them for their time. Now that I've actually been out in the working world for over 20 years, I can appreciate other people taking time out of their busy workday to meet with me even more. 

Is everyone today dumb, lazy, or both? Has technology stripped us of common sense when it comes to manners?

Now before my readers who are of Generation Y or younger get offended, let me just say that this is not a generational problem by any means. I interviewed people in their 30s and 40s (in other words, my age) who ended up working in my department who never sent me a thank you email or note; in fact, the one person who did was ironically one they didn't offer the job to.

I read some crazy ass blog post not long ago by a human resources professional who poo-pooed thank you notes and said they were a sign of kissing up and looking desperate to get the job today. That is outrageous! In my opinion it just waves a big rudeness sign. The last time I job hunted, which was five years ago, I purchased blank note cards with colorful artwork on the front, as a friend suggested it might get noticed and make me stand out from the other candidates. Although I didn't get the job, I did notice the card was proudly displayed on the hiring manager's desk when I was invited back for a second interview with some of his coworkers. So...was this sucking up and looking desperate? I think not. Also, I'd like to think in this technology heavy world that he appreciated receiving a tangible piece of paper in the mail. 

Sadly, I do think that technology has a lot to do with it. People no longer mail physical cards or letters anymore; they email. But when you can't even acknowledge a gift or an interview via email...well, I don't know what more else to say, but it's definitely a problem I've noticed lately that shows no signs of being remedied any time soon.

What do you guys think? Has anyone else experienced this?


  1. Sometimes I think just a "thank you" in any form has disappeared. People are always quick to ask me for some sort of information but then rarely acknowledge the time I put in to answer their question or find and send a resource to them. It really puts a bitter taste in my mouth.

    And, while on the subject *wildly waving my arms around* WHY am I the one saying "thank you" at retail establishments? Shouldn't THEY be thanking me for spending my money there and not somewhere else??

    I think technology has really skewed things into a weird world of pseudo-interaction. Thank goodness there are enough of us retro-fans that remember when people were human beings.

    (I think my rant is over...we'll see...)

  2. When I had open positions in my marketing department the receipt of thank you notes from various candidates were generally divided among generational lines. The younger ones did not send traditional handwritten notes but rather email - if at all. Older candidates sent handwritten notes.

    Now I am on the other side and looking for work. I send both email and handwritten notes to all in the various interviews with me. I can't any difference in the hiring manager's attitude but it sure doesn't hurt.

  3. Update:

    I left the word "see" out of my last sentance.

    ALSO - I read where the Christmas and borthday card market is rapidly declining due to the use of Facebook and other social media to instantly communicate wishes. Interesting...

  4. Thank you notes after an interview? Seriously? I'm nearly 60 and I have *NEVER* heard of anyone doing that nor has anyone ever suggested it to me.

  5. I've asked the same thing. When I receive donations for my Avon Walk, I write to everyone. I know I love receiving a thank you note :) Dr. Julie Ann's comment is right, I think people just forget to say thank you.

    Glad to hear you found a candidate ; )

  6. Right on. "Thank you" seems to have disappeared into the woodwork.

    My daughter attended two weddings last year. One in the Spring and one in the Summer. She has YET to receive thank yous for her gifts, and in one of those weddings, she was also in the wedding party! How obnoxious is that?

  7. Do you know, I have never sent a Thank You note? I have only had one truly professional job, and when I interviewed, thank you notes were unknown to me. That's how little I was prepared for the real working world. Luckily, I got the job anyway.

    My husband is a fiend about thank you emails and he does his best to include everyone. He's great that way. I think he's the person I first heard of this "Thank You Note Post-Interview" thing from! :)

    In my defense though I'm REALLY polite in person. It's true, I swear!

    We did get some Thank You cards for the few wedding presents we got after we eloped, but I have to admit, I'm not the best at that kind of etiquette.

  8. I am a stickler for thank you notes, and it drives my Gen Y daughters wild. It takes a moment to pen a card or note to thank someone for a gift, dinner or kindness they have done you.
    I am also unfailingly polite when being served anywhere.

    Having said that I have never heard of sending thank you's to job interviewers. It does seem a little unnecessary. If I had to send follow up information I might add a line thanking them for their time but otherwise....no.

  9. Maybe people would be more inclined to write a thank-you letter if interviewers were also courteous? I'm employed full-time now, thankfully, but when the recession first hit, I worked as a temp for six months and as you can imagine, went on several interviews. I can't tell you how many times I was told that I would receive a phone call letting me know either way if I got the job or not only to never hear from them again. That is so rude. If I didn't get the job, that's fine, but please let me know so I'm not waiting around for a call. (And lest you suggest I be more proactive and make a call myself, I did that several times, too, only to be given some excuse about how they're still interviewing or haven't made a decision yet. Again, fine, but let me know when you've come to said decision or have finished interviewing all applicants!) The world is a busier place now, and time is precious. I highly doubt sending an old-fashioned thank you card is going to influence my chances or getting or not getting a job.

  10. I am really, really shocked that there are people out there who never heard of sending nor have actually ever sent a thank you note to a prospective employer and actually got the job. I'd be curious to know which fields you "anonymous" folks work in (and BTW, why are you posting anonymously?) I personally don't know of anyone who purposely didn't send even a thank you email for a job they really wanted.

    I've been on the other end, where I never heard back on whether I got the job or not...however, I would have to say if you didn't hear back it means you didn't get it. From personal experience that hasn't happened too often...more often than not I've gotten a follow up letting me know I didn't get the job.

  11. I also have never heard of sending thank you notes for interviews. But then again, I have never sent (or received) a thank you note in my life! For this, the blog author must think me incredibly rude, but I believe in thanking people in person and that's the end of it.
    I would only send a note if I had not the opportunity to thank someone in person.

  12. Nah, maybe not rude, but maybe just misinformed...I'm not sure how you folks missed the memo on interview thank you notes because all I know is that was mentioned *everywhere*...magazine articles, recruiters who came to visit with one of my companies to give job hunting advice to our department that was being laid off at the time, etc. I mean it was drummed into my head, at least if you wanted a semi-professional job behind a desk anyway.

    I do agree with Dr. Julie-Ann that retail stores should say thank you as you're leaving. I always did when I worked in retail.

    But sorry, Amanda, I think married couples and anyone who received a baby shower should send thank you notes for the gifts. I think when we don't, it's just a sign of society becoming lazy and coming across as a bit ungrateful.

  13. I love the idea of hand-written notes. I think we're seeing a generation that knows nothing except the computer, texting, etc. so sad to say, I think it's a lost art.

  14. No Pam, we sent them! I think you misunderstood because I wasn't clear. What I meant was we got a few thank you cards (and sent them), but overall I'm not good at that stuff...

    Sorry. I swear, I'm a nice and thankful person! :)

  15. I sent thank you's to my last interviewer, and expected her to distribute among the interviewers; a level where decorum is appropriate and expected. But the interviewers were not. :( I know for certain that such behavior is noticed/expected by upper pharma execs.

  16. Just read this in a business newsletter that we receive monthly at my company:

    Job seekers may be wondering why they are not being hired for positions they interview for. The reason? Poor etiquette.

    A recent CareerBuilder survey found that 22% of hiring managers are less likely to hire a candidate who did not send a thank you note after an interview. Hiring managers went on to suggest that not sending a thank you note showed a lack of follow-through (86%) and that the individual is not serious about the job opportunity (56%).

    Proper etiquette is keeping up with the times. 89% of survey respondents said that an emailed thank you note is perfectly acceptable, with half indicating that email is their preferred method of communication.

    © 2011 Nurtur Health, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
    Writing Emails that Work

    I absolutely agree. If you want the job, send a thank you note.


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