By Kathleen Sullivan
After an interview, many job seekers dash off a quick thank you letter, relieved that it is over and anxious to move on to the next step in the hiring process. Some do not send a letter at all. A hasty or forgotten thank you letter is a missed opportunity to make a good impression and sell yourself to a potential employer. Here is how to differentiate yourself from others vying for a job by turning your thank you letter into a sales tool.
Show the employer you understand his business needs: Often, a thank you letter expresses appreciation to the interviewer for the meeting – and stops there. Rather than merely thanking the interviewer for meeting, use the opening of your letter to show that he spent his time wisely with you. Acknowledge that you listened to the information he shared about his organization’s goals and challenges by specifically repeating them. Build rapport with him by expressing your mutual interest in meeting these types of challenges. Then, use the next section of your thank you letter to prove that you not only understand his issues, but also have the expertise to help him resolve them.
Demonstrate that you are the person to fill those needs: Make the employer envision you as a problem solver and someone who could be a valuable member of his team. Start this section of your thank you letter by highlighting the top three to five challenges the interviewer described. Next, demonstrate you have the knowledge, skills, and attitude to tackle each issue. Using a bulleted format, propose solutions for each of the employer’s major challenges. Be concrete in describing how you would achieve results. Focus on results that involve making his organization more productive, improving business processes, building morale, increasing performance, bringing in sales or new customers, and saving time and money. Now that the employer can see you as the answer to his needs, go for what you really want.
Ask for the sale: A good salesperson always asks for the sale. Do not leave this critical aspect of selling yourself unspoken in your thank you letter. You have made your case about your enthusiasm about helping to achieve his organization’s goals and your qualifications for the job, so now be direct. If you have just completed a first round of interviews and a second round is being scheduled, express your interest in pursuing further interviews. If interviews are completed and the employer is making a hiring decision, tell him how you have proven why you are the best candidate for the job.
It can be difficult to see yourself as a salesperson rather than a job seeker. However, all aspects of job seeking are a sales process, even a thank you letter. If you leave an opportunity on the table, someone else will take advantage of it. Remember: it is not the best candidate who gets the job, it’s the best salesperson.