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Writing Winning Thank-You Letters

17 Dec 2015 10:36 AM | Anonymous

By Wendy S. Enelow, CCM, MRW, JCTC, CPRW
Enelow Enterprises, Inc.

Writing powerful, executive-level thank-you letters is not just a formality anymore; not just a quick, “Thanks for the interview – can’t wait to hear from you.” Thank-you letters (which I refer to as second-tier marketing tools) can have tremendous value in moving your candidacy forward and positioning you above the competition. Although much of what you include in your thank-you letter may have already been communicated during your interview, there is nothing more effective than the written word to etch those thoughts into your interviewer’s mind. You can use your thank-you letters to:

1. Overcome objections.

If, during an interview, there was a specific objection raised as to your appropriateness as a candidate, use your thank-you letter to respond to, and overcome, those concerns. Demonstrate that it’s not an obstacle, but rather an opportunity, and that you’re fully prepared to meet the challenge.

Example: You’re interviewing as CEO for a well-established company in the Midwest. Although you’re extremely well-qualified, they’re concerned that you’ve never lived in the area and have no network of local contacts. Eliminate their concerns by explaining that your network of professional contacts is nationwide and, in fact, you know John Doe of the XXX Company, have a long-standing relationship with an economic development director in the area, etc. These contacts will only serve to expand the company’s already-established network.

2. Reiterate your specific expertise as it relates to a company’s specific challenges.

  • In 2000, led the turnaround and return to profitability of a $75 million apparel manufacturer, rebuilt customer credibility, and launched a new pipeline of marketing and development activity.
  • Between 1998 and 2000, restored profitability to a $200 million consumer products manufacturer who had multi-million dollar losses for the past six years. Today, the company boasts profits at more than 18% annually (4% over industry average).
  • In 1997, consulted with a Fortune 50 company to create a strategic turnaround program for all 290 of their production facilities worldwide. To date, the company has implemented two of my programs and generated cost savings in excess of $100 million.

If, during an interview, the company communicated their specific needs, issues, and/or challenges, use your thank-you letter to demonstrate how you can meet those needs and eliminate those challenges.

Example: You’ve interviewed as CFO for a distressed company in need of immediate action if it is to survive. They need a candidate with proven success in fast-track turnarounds and revitalizations.

3. Highlight your core professional competencies and successes directly related to that company’s needs.

If, during an interview, the company communicated their ideal qualifications for a candidate, use your thank-you letter to outline how you meet and/or exceed each of those qualifications. Example: You’ve interviewed as EVP of Technology & Product Development with a high-tech venture and the company has clearly communicated its four essential candidate qualifications. Let them “see” immediately that you have those four qualifications with a format and structure to your letter like this:

New Product Development

Include 2-3 sentence paragraph with a strong overview of your total experience in new product development, and then include a list of 3-5 bullets highlighting specific projects, achievements, operations, etc.

Technology Commercialization

Include 2-3 sentence paragraph with a strong overview of your total experience in technology commercialization, and then include a list of 3-5 bullets highlighting specific projects, achievements, operations, etc. Include 2-3 sentence paragraph with a strong overview of your total experience in technology commercialization, and then include a list of 3-5 bullets highlighting specific projects, achievements, operations, etc.

Team Building & Leadership

Include 2-3 sentence paragraph with a strong overview of your total experience in team building and leadership, and then include a list of 3-5 bullets highlighting specific projects, achievements, operations, etc.

Global Business Development

Include 2-3 sentence paragraph with a strong overview of your total experience in global business development, and then include a list of 3-5 bullets highlighting specific projects, achievements, operations, etc. Include 2-3 sentence paragraph with a strong overview of your total experience in global business development, and then include a list of 3-5 bullets highlighting specific projects, achievements, operations, etc.

And, finally, the all-important “how long should a thank-you letter be” question! Of course, as with anything else in job search, there is no definitive answer, but 1-2 pages is the norm depending on the amount of information you want to communicate. They certainly DO NOT have to only be one page! Remind yourself that you already have the company’s interest or you would not have been interviewing, and use your thank-you letter as a tool to communicate valuable information.

Remember, the entire process of job search is marketing and merchandising your product – YOU. There is no reason why writing thank-you letters should be any different than any other of your job search activities!

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