Five tips for writing an old-fashioned but effective card.

Share story

I don’t consider myself a delicate flower, but I do appreciate the finer things in life: a perfect cup of tea, cashmere and perhaps most of all, a handwritten thank-you note.

Sure, an email will suffice but do you want to go through life just sufficing? Methinks no. A handwritten thank you note is an unexpected and welcome surprise amidst the credit card offers and Bed Bath & Beyond coupons. Send one more often: after an interview of course, but also to a client when you wrap up a project or to a vendor who makes your life easier. Here’s how to rock the note:

Start with a quality card. It pays to have a box of thank you or blank cards on hand. Invest in some beautiful letterpress cards. I like small cards for the simple reason that I don’t have to write as much. But the important thing is to send a card that reflects your taste as well as your high opinion of the recipient.

Draft your message before putting pen to paper. I’m a neat freak and I’m bummed when I have to cross something out or I run out of space in a note. Or worse, I don’t say exactly what I intend. Type or write out your message, editing it until you are satisfied with the sentiment. When ready, pull out your favorite pen and write away.

Personalize the note. I like to keep the focus on the recipient: I thank the person right up front and then mention why he or his actions made such an impact on me. I make sure to mention a specific detail. For example: “It was such a pleasure to talk with you today about the copywriting position. I appreciate you taking the time to explain the role in such detail (and without resorting to bizspeak, which is no small feat). Your passion for the project is infectious, and I am more interested than ever in joining the team.”

Resist the urge to pitch yourself. The fact that you are sending a personalized note stands in for a pitch. You don’t need to recap your résumé. Simply restate your interest and wrap it up.

Be timely. Post the note as soon as the call, interview or project ends, as that little card can be what tips new work in your favor. See, a thank-you note connotes a thoughtfulness and attention to detail that is in short supply but high demand. Conscientiousness is timeless.