When I was 18, I had no idea how many nuances, like timing or word choice, could impact an email response. Years of interning and freelancing throughout college, however, have helped me mastered email etiquette. The most important thing I’ve learned? A great professional email is more than the words–it’s the context.
First things first, know your audience. Draft thank you emails immediately after interviewing so you remember select details and the interviewer’s tone. There is nothing more embarrassing than incorrectly remembering a detail or writing too formal or lax of an email. It makes us seem less aware of the occasion and less in-tune with the other person.
Send emails between 9-10am the next business day. Multiple case studies show email open rates peak early in the morning for professionals, especially when employees settle into the office. By mid-day, an inbox can be a deluge of important status updates. Be mindful of time zones, too.
Most importantly, thank you notes can make or break the next step in the hiring process. Your email should convey your gratitude and interest in less than 100 words. Think of the acronym “S.E.N.D.” before you email your thoughts to an interviewer:
- Short: Keep it brief. If you’re a college student or recent graduate, you might be used to writing detailed emails to your professors. With business professionals, there is a good chance your email will be read on a mobile device in between meetings. Now is not the time to elaborate – be thorough and concise with word choice. For example, instead of saying, “I know you’re very busy, so I will reach back out to you next week,” you could simply say, “I will follow up next Monday.” Don’t be afraid to delete additional lines.
- Exact: Restate your purpose in the first line. In addition to a normal workflow, interviewers could be sourcing applicants for multiple roles. Tag your first sentence with keywords such as the job title and date of the interview. Don’t assume you’re the only candidate.
- Nudge: What is your “call to action?” I like to include a link to my personal website in the body of an email to direct the reader there. Even though I have a permanent link in my email signature, it’s commonly ignored. Use a link shortening service such as Bitly to track link activity. It’s an easy way to see if your interviewer reviews your material after meeting.
- Detail: Name one special moment from your interview. Most applicants send emails with superlatives such as “best” or “nicest” to describe employees or offices. However, it doesn’t show much thought or personality. Use one clincher that will stick with the interviewer after they close your message. Don’t get carried away, because this email needs to be less than 100 words.
Now, let’s put it all together:
Thank you so much for meeting with me on July 25th to speak about the Marketing Coordinator position. I enjoyed learning about your role in launching Product X from start to finish. When you introduced me to Alex in Social, I could tell we had the same passion for engaging fans on Twitter.
If you or Alex want to review my recent social media campaigns, you can see theme here: bitly.com/e33rz0.
Everyone has their own method for writing thank you emails, but S.E.N.D. works well for me. What is on your thank you note checklist? Tell us below.
Marc Phillips is a recent Ithaca College graduate who works as a marketing associate for a New York City media company. Follow him on Twitter: @mbp817.