Before I start yelling at you kids to get off my lawn, I must step back and point out that this mini-rant about politeness is not just about me being a curmudgeon.
Whatever happened to the simple “thank you”? People still speak it all the time, but in written form, it seems to be going the way of “thee” and “thou” in terms of outdated speech. First, email made everyone forget the importance of capitalization and punctuation. Now, texting has made it acceptable to communicate almost entirely in acronyms and half-words.
Before I start yelling at you kids to get off my lawn, I must step back and point out that this mini-rant about politeness is not just about me being a curmudgeon. It’s a warning that being too casual can have serious consequences for job seekers, too.
The wisdom of sending a thank-you email immediately after an interview is, by now, a truth universally acknowledged, as Jane Austen would say in her proper prose. But what about correspondence with people in your network? Are you recognizing the small contributions they make in your job hunt?
I’ve often received requests from people I used to supervise asking for me to be a reference or to write a recommendation letter. Since these are mostly young people with talent and not a lot of experience, I’m happy to help them out. But on a few occasions, the interaction was soured by a lack of communication.
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A few years ago, a former intern reached out to me about getting a recommendation. It was a last-minute request and it came via email. He wanted me to write a letter, but it had to be done before a certain date, which of course turned out to be the next day. I did have some other deadlines, but I felt like doing a favor, so I spent some time that evening crafting a nice letter. I sent it off and asked him if it looked OK or if I could do anything else.
After that? Silence. I waited several days and didn’t hear a word, via phone, email or text. After a few more days I actually forgot about it and then remembered the next month that I hadn’t seen so much as a “hey, thanks!” in response. Eventually I emailed him again asking how it went, and I quickly got an effusive response and apology; he got the job and was terribly sorry he never got back to me.
Well, that’s all well and good for him, but will I be as nice the next time? Will I think of his name if I see a good opportunity open up? Maybe; maybe not. I try not to be a spiteful person, but there’s no excuse for rudeness. There are plenty of people with more clout than I’ll ever have who would feel used and offended if their favors went unnoticed.
So follow up on those email responses. Better yet, write a physical thank-you note on a card and snail-mail it to those who do you the biggest favors. It will probably make their day and help tp ensure that they will want to do you more favors in the future.
Is it time-consuming to send out thank-you notes to everyone who helps you out? It sure is. But friendly and professional communication is not just a courtesy when you’re job searching; it’s part of your “full-time job” of looking for work. If you can’t find the time to simply acknowledge the people in your network who assist you on your journey, don’t expect to have a useful network for very long.
Finally, if you feel you have too many of these “thanks” emails to send, perhaps you’re asking for too many favors in the first place; if so, you probably have much bigger problems to address.