When you're looking for a new job, it's easy to feel like the burden of effort is all on you. You need to have an impressive track record. You have to talk about that impressive record in an impressive way. And you have to prove that you can do even more impressive stuff in the future. It's a lot.
But hiring isn't exactly easy, either. According to Jobvite, jobs in insurance can receive as many as 14 applicants per hire, while jobs in "consumer internet" (defined as companies like Grubhub or Zappos) can receive more than 66 applicants per hire. After sorting through all of those eager people, Jobvite estimates that hiring managers in each of those industries interview 14.9% and 10% of applicants, respectively. So if you're granted an interview at all, pat yourself on the back for making it that far — but also show some appreciation to the people who waded through several jobseekers to get you there. In other words, say "thank you."
"Thank-you notes are very important, and a thank-you email should follow the interview within 24 hours," says MaryJo Fitzgerald, a community expert at Glassdoor. "It shows that you are eager for the position and are ready to do the work; and it shows an acknowledgement for the hiring manager or team’s time spent with you."
These days, Fitzgerald and most experts agree that it's less necessary to send your note via snail mail. Unless you get it out the door on the same day, your gesture may feel less fresh and more like an afterthought. Be sure to send an individualized email to each person that interviewed you, even if it was a panel, with some level of specificity.
In most cases, if you've gotten as far as an interview, you've been in communication with a recruiter or hiring manager who can give you the information of the people you've spoken with. "It’s perfectly acceptable to ask that person for the email addresses of the people that you’ve interviewed with," Fitzgerald says, so no sweat if you forgot to ask for a card or even a name — but even if your thank-you is brief, keep it individualized.
"Teams typically sit together, so if you send an email to everybody on the team that you interviewed with that's the same, it'll be very obvious," she explains. "So while you’re interviewing, it’s okay to take notes. Pick out one thing that you took away from your time with this specific person and include that in your thank-you note, whether it’s, Thank you so much for your time. I appreciated learning about ____ that you do at the company and look forward to hearing from you in the coming days or weeks."
A thank-you email as simple as that can go a long way toward showing that you pay attention, are thoughtful, and are conscientious — all good qualities in a future hire.