How to Write a Memorable Thank-You Note
There are plenty of times in your life when you need to write a thank-you note: you may have been someone’s guest during spring break, perhaps someone gave you an informational interview or a lead on a possible internship or job, or maybe your neighbor at your Tandem apartment surprised you with a plate of homemade cookies “just because.” Regardless, you owe them a heartfelt and charming thank you.
According to my momma, the doyenne of thank you notes, it must be: sent within a week of the thing you’re thanking for (unless you’re still on your honeymoon), hand-written (sorry, an email won’t cut it), and no Mad-Lib pre-written or fill-in-the-blank notes unless you’re five years old or under. Lifehacker.com has some more great suggestions on how to get through the process painlessly.
What You’ll Need
- A paper product: Cards are lovely and nice stationery is splendid, but a standard sheet of note paper will do in a pinch.
- A pen: You want the message to last, and pencil graphite fades and wipes away over time.
- Time: It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to write one of these, but if you’re unaccustomed to writing in a medium that can’t be instantly deleted, you may wish to take some time to put your thoughts in order. Feel free to pre-type the message and then just copy it out by hand.
- Sincerity: It’s important that you write “thank you” notes when you really mean them, and even if you’re writing out of necessity rather than truly intense gratitude (maybe it’s to thank your aunt for an sweater, or someone who interviewed you for a job you know you’re not going to get), it’s important to do so sincerely.
How to Word Things
As mentioned with the “sincerity” comment in the previous section, even if you’re writing a thank-you note because you have to, it’s important to put a bit of honest gratitude into the note. There has to have been something about the situation/item/etc. that you’re truly thankful for. Even if you hate the end result, think of some aspect that you feel you can thank them for honestly.
In the case of the hideous sweater, you could say that you appreciate the effort that it must have taken to create it for you, or perhaps the colors used in it go quite well with your hair.
“Dear Aunt Helga,
I wanted to write to you to thank you for the sweater you gave me for Festivus. The colors you chose are really lovely, and I really appreciate how much time and care you put into making it for me by hand. Looking forward to seeing you at the family BBQ next year.
Note that you didn’t actually say that you liked the piece, or that you’ll ever wear it, or that you won’t use it to start a bonfire in the near future, but you did acknowledge that she cares about you enough to spend 300 hours knitting you something; we only have so much time here on Earth, so the fact that she made something for you is pretty damned special.
Let’s say that you’d like to thank someone for interviewing you for a job you’ve applied for. It’s good to have some thank-you cards at home for just such an occasion, so before you pop over to that interview, pre-address the envelope with the person’s office address and stamp it too; you can fill out the card at a cafe after the interview and then pop it into the nearest post box. It’ll be delivered the next day, and they’ll be impressed that you put time and effort into thanking them properly. (Hint: that might actually put you in their good books, even if you’ve botched part of the interview.)
“Dear Mr./Ms. ____
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me this morning. I enjoyed our interview, and it was great to learn more about your company. You made me feel at ease during our discussion, and if you feel that I’m a good fit for Pete’s Pork Rind Emporium, I look forward to the opportunity to work with you.
Keep it simple, succinct, and neutral; this is not an opportunity for you to suck up and beg for either the job itself, or at least a second interview. You’re expressing appreciation, and if they think you’re a good match, they’ll call you. Trust me on this, I’ve received enough douchey thank-you notes that were so full of sycophantic fawning that I can tell you with complete sincerity that they will not get you the job. Be gracious, and keep your dignity intact.
There is really only one excuse for not writing a thank-you note by hand, and that is if your handwriting is truly shameful. Whether it’s illegible or looks like a 3-year-old’s crayon scrawlings, horrific handwriting is indeed grounds for printing a note or card instead of writing it out. In a scenario like this, it’s best to actually mention in the note that you’ve typed it out because your penmanship is so bad, and sign your name with pen at the bottom of the letter. (You can manage that, correct?) Really, there is no excuse for poor handwriting, but in an era when most communication is typed and children are rarely taught penmanship in schools, it’s understandable that you might be out of practice. This very lack of written communication illustrates even more perfectly why a written note is a rare and treasured thing nowadays.
For more thank-you note tips, please visit this Lifehacker link.