In today’s tough economic times, new blog posts with career advice seem to be a daily delivery in my email inbox. While browsing another tech web site, I happened to run across an older post with tips for those interviewing for jobs. I thought the tips were all sensible and helpful, especially for anyone new to the job market or out of practice after a long tenure on their most recent job. What amazed me was the discussion of the last suggestion, which was to remember to send thank-you notes after the interview.
To say that the comments shocked me would be an understatement. The responses to that suggestion ranged from dismissals of thank-you notes as unnecessary, silly, and irrelevant. One poster even opined that thank-you notes for job interviews are creepy and border on stalking.
As some readers know, I have lived my adult life south of the Mason-Dixon line, a region of the US where children are still raised to say “Yes, Ma’am” and “No, Sir” to their elders, drop-in visitors are welcomed in for a glass of sweet tea and admonished “Now don’t be such a stranger!” when they depart. In this perhaps quaint land of hospitality, my observation is that thank you notes are still commonplace and expected, at least in the circles in which I travel.
So I asked some of my work colleagues what they thought about sending thank-you notes after job interviews. The responses I got were varied:
It’s a “girl thing”; sons may need extra reminding to send notes of appreciation, but daughters tend to remember their mother’s advice.
It’s a generational thing; younger people tend to put less emphasis on what they see as old-fashioned social niceties.
It’s an IT thing; geeks value logic and direct payoffs, and they do not see the logic in thanking someone for a mutually beneficial transaction which has not even yet paid off.
All I can say to all of that is that demonstrating courtesy may be the one thing that differentiates one prospective employee from another, and while interviewing for an IT position, it is not unheard of that people from the business side may also participate in the interviews. Maybe this is another one of those geeks-versus-suits things, but I think that the advice to follow up with hand-written notes is still good, even for IT professionals who spend the majority of the day in virtual worlds.