A friend doesn’t let her children play with Christmas or birthday presents until they write thank-you notes. As a parent, she enforced this policy more effectively than I was able to do.

But today, I’m more adamant about the thank-you note gesture–especially when someone helps with your job search.

Before the pandemic shut down, one of the guest speakers in my class mentioned a job opening at her agency. A sharp student followed up after the lecture and the speaker arranged for an interview later that week that soon turned into a full-time job. The student was beyond excited about her luck and the opportunity. In passing, I suggested that she send a note of appreciation to the person who opened the door for her. To my surprise, the student said she had never written a thank-you note.

This is a true story. This A student asked me to walk her through the process, including what to say, how to address the envelope and where to buy a stamp. In order to speed up the process, I gave her one of my blank thank-you notes, but wanted her to experience a visit to the nearest U.S. Post Office for the stamp purchase. Before sending, she showed me the note which was fine, but I had to give her another envelope since she filled the entire surface with the person’s name and address, leaving no room for the stamp. Needless to say, this was a painful and eye-opening experience for both of us. Importantly, the note recipient was wowed by what she called the “lost art” gesture of a handwritten thank-you note.

While I’m back to encouraging parents to insist that children get in the habit of writing thank-you notes for everything. I’ll often settle for an email note. To score major points, however, invest the effort in a handwritten note and a stamp. And send it promptly after the gesture of help.

What to Say

Greeting card companies have made it easy to send thank-you notes with pre-printed messages, but personal notes are best. Thank-you notes don’t have to be essays, just short, heartfelt messages. If you’re at a loss for words, here are some thoughts from my experience and the folks at Hallmark:

  • “This has been a challenging time, and I appreciate you so much.”
  • “You have no idea how much your help has meant.”
  • “For all the little and big ways you’ve helped make this possible…thanks!”
  • “There was nothing random about your acts of kindness. Thank you for all you have done.”
  • “I can never thank you enough. But this is a start.”
  • “You always know how to make life brighter for everyone you know.”
  • “I can’t possibly repay you.”
  • “You are always so helpful.”
  • “You make the world a nicer place.”
  • “You went above and beyond, and I am touched and grateful.”
  • “You took common courtesy to an uncommon level. We’re so grateful for your help.”

Thank You Templates

If you’re still at a loss for words, find suggestions on various business websites. Check out one of my favorite sites for templates that cover just about any situation that requires a thank-you note.

Does It Work?

Absolutely. Friend and recruiter Travis Kessel posts thank-you notes on his bulletin board and I have a desk drawer dedicated to notes I’ve received over the years. Eventually, I want to do research that supports my premise that individuals who send handwritten thank-you notes are more successful in their careers. Ask just about any PR pro and they’ll tell you that thank-you notes will make you memorable..