Sending a post-Career Fair thank you

According to the UCS Career Fair document, we should send thank-you notes to each representative we met at the fair. A personal letter sets you apart from the many other people who were at the fair.

Should your personal letter be handwritten or e-mailed? Here’s my take: if you really liked the company and would like to work there, follow-up today with an e-mail and get a handwritten note in the mail before the week is out. If the company was so-so and you don’t see yourself there, send a quick e-mail note, just to keep the relationship going.

If you’re like me, you stress over what to write in a thank-you note. You think back through the conversation trying to pull out an example or a comment to reference. You worry over wording. (Or maybe that’s just me.) In any event, here and here are a few sample thank-you notes I found. They’re specifically for thanking people you met at career fairs.

The second page has some of the best correspondence samples I’ve seen. The career-fair thank yous are at the bottom under “Job Fair correspondence,” but the page also has application letters for jobs and grad school, letters of inquiry and other forms of thank yous. Bookmark this site!

This article explains what the letter should accomplish — basically a statement of gratitude that restates some of your best attributes and says you’re interested in future possibilities. If you’re not interested in a working for the company, lay off reminding them about your skills. Just say it was nice to meet the person, and you look forward to staying in touch.

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5 responses to “Sending a post-Career Fair thank you

  1. Good post, Kelly.

    One point of disagreement, though: While I agree that a quick email follow up followed by a more formal thank you is a good approach, I’d recommend you make that follow up letter be a formal business document rather than a hand-written note (unless by “hand written” you really just meant hard copy via snail mail).

    • tarheelsintransit

      Thanks, Gary! And thanks for commenting. I’m a fan of the handwritten thank you — the kind you write out on a stationary. I’ve read articles in favor of both handwritten and snail mail notes — both come down to setting yourself apart by creating a personal relationship. Assuming your handwriting is legible, I think a handwritten note (especially in the e-mail/typed age) creates more of an impact. What’s the reason you prefer typed letters?

  2. I should clarify that to some degree it does depend on the organizational culture and type of industry — some are going to be more open to informality than others.

    But, while I agree on personal relationships being important, ultimately the interview process (and associated thank you letter) is a business transaction rather than a personal one. Thus, the business letter is generally preferable.

    Now for an informational interview, networking connection or other less-formal contact hand-written communication is completely appropriate.

    Of course, as with most things, these are not hard and fast rules that can never be broken… just guidelines, general expectations and traditional appropriateness.

  3. Thank you notes represent an opportunity to remind potential employers who you are, both personally and professionally. My experience is that handwritten notes are most appreciated, and I send (and receive) them on a regular basis. However, they should be done on professional stationery.

    Starting out, purchasing simple bound note paper at Hallmark or OfficeDepot will work fine. A great graduation gift is some paper or note cards (with envelopes) that include your formal name in professional font. My wife bought me these for my 30th Birthday from the Baggie Goose in Asheville (http://www.baggiegoose.cceasy.com/).

    Professionalism should be centered around the tone and subject of the message. Typed/printed letters have a tendency to be seen as manufactured, even if they include a unique paragraph (a nice mail merge can accomplish this task). Still, there are those who like this format. Personally, I prefer to receive the hand written notes and cards, especially when it involves helping someone out.

  4. tarheelsintransit

    Gary and Ken- Sorry for the delayed response! Thank you for both for commenting – I think you offer two different but equally helpful perspectives on thank you notes.

    @Gary- I’ve never thought of a thank you note as a business transaction. In a more formal company/industry, it’s easy to understand how a handwritten note could be seen as stepping over some line of familiarity and formality. I really like your advice to based your communication style on the feel you got from the company and/or recruiter and/or industry standards.

    @KW- Professional stationery is a great way to strike a balance between handwritten and business. I also agree the tone of the message is very important, as is including something unique or personal — to show the recipient that it’s not a form-fill letter. “Personal” items can include quotes from the conversation, something you realized you had in common, etc.

    Thanks again for commenting! I found this conversation helpful, and I hope others did, too.

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