Last week's Headhunter Challenge asked how you would employ a thank-you note after a job interview. Here are some of the Headhunter's thoughts...

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Last week’s Headhunter Challenge asked how you would employ a thank-you note after a job interview. Here are some of the Headhunter’s thoughts. His full commentary is at www.nwjobs.com/headhunter.

Nick’s commentary:

A thank-you note should be designed carefully to gain you an extra edge on your competition — not just to express your politeness. It can make or break a job offer. But let’s work our way through all the options before we design that special note.

No matter how fast the world moves or how busy we all are, a thank-you note still makes a difference. It reminds the employer that you took your meeting seriously and that it’s still on your mind.

In its simplest form, a thank-you note demonstrates respect and politeness. But by itself, it is little more than a nice gesture.

A phone call is a good way to follow up after an interview, but it can be difficult to reach the manager. Even if you pulled it off, you’d get just one shot at saying something substantial enough to make a difference in the selection process. Besides, a phone call is ephemeral. Once you hang up, the connection is over.

Some readers seem to realize that a thank-you note is like a Trojan horse. It’s a way to deliver additional information to the employer that will influence the decision about whether to hire you.

There are things you can include with a thank-you note to make it “sticky,” so the manager will continue to think about you:

• A clipping from a relevant publication that might be useful to the manager, with your notes in the margins. A good clipping will get passed around the office and your name will be on it.

• “Afterthought” suggestions about how you could help the manager solve a specific problem that was discussed in the interview. (Be brief.)

• A sales lead to be passed on to the company’s sales force, along with your suggestion about how the company might compete more effectively.

• The name of a person who might be a good potential candidate for another job in the company.

These attachments make you stand out because they provide value the manager can use immediately. They give you an edge over the competition.

Another kind of thank-you note is delivered via e-mail. Shape the note properly, and you can stimulate a rapid-fire exchange and a wider channel of communication between you and the manager. You can try an e-version of one of the tips above to get started.

End your note with a simple question that relates to the department’s business, and you may get an e-mail dialogue going that helps you build a relationship with the manager.

Important: Avoid questions in your e-mail about getting hired, and avoid continuing your interview or correcting mistakes you may have made in your meeting. Don’t be pushy. Be friendly. Be brief!

The purpose of the e-mail is to establish more common ground between you and the manager by focusing on a topic you both care about: the work itself.

A manager will hire you if he or she perceives that you can be of help. That’s why he or she wants to fill the job, right? So, try to be helpful after the interview is over, without being a nuisance. The goal of any communication is to demonstrate how motivated and interested you are, how focused you are on the business at hand, and how you can help contribute to the company’s bottom line.

A follow-up phone call is good. But something in writing — using snail mail or e-mail — that the manager might refer to again is better.

Why not do both? This is what will set you apart from your competition.

Nick Corcodilos is author of “Ask The Headhunter: Reinventing the Interview to Win the Job,” and host of www.asktheheadhunter.com.

He can be reached by e-mail at seattle@asktheheadhunter.com or at North Bridge Group, P.O. Box 600, Lebanon, NJ 08833. Sorry, no personal replies.