A follow-up note of gratitude after a job interview is a time-honored tradition among job seekers. However, there's an ongoing debate about whether the thank-you should be delivered electronically or through the postal system.

Times are constantly changing and while the spirit of the gesture remains the same, there are options - and even preferences -- in the method of delivery. Each has its place and its advantages. Consider the following:

Email Thank-You Note:

  • It's hard to beat the efficiency of email. Business etiquette today dictates that you send an emailed note to your interviewer on the same day you meet with them. A concise, well-written note that quickly lands in a hiring manager's inbox is a sign of respectful (not desperate) eagerness, attention to detail and excellent follow-through. Across a variety of industries and positions, it's hard to go wrong with a short email expressing your appreciation and enthusiasm for the position. Take the opportunity to make one last point about why you are a great fit for the company.
  • It's fast. When it comes to speed, there's no contest. Email has immediacy that helps keep you top-of-mind when hiring decisions are being made quickly.
  • Email improves the odds of reaching your intended recipient. It can be easy to ignore or misplace a paper note card, especially when it doesn't appear to be urgent. However, most of us check our emails frequently throughout each day. It also acts as a digital footprint if they want to go back and search your name from their inbox.
  • It requires very little effort. There are virtually no obstacles to sending a thank-you email. It is truly one of the most user-friendly tools in any job seeker's toolbox. There's no need to find nice writing paper or even a postage stamp. Your computer program will even spell-check the document before you hit send. A follow up with a handwritten note is icing on the cake.
  • Easy to reply. If your interviewer has any additional questions or wants more information, you've paved the way to reach you quickly. Your contact information can be located by simply searching your name or key word.

Handwritten Thank-You Note:

  • A handwritten note provides a personal touch in an increasingly digital world. Anyone can send an email. But sitting down with pen in hand and writing a thoughtful note - then finding a stamp and a mailbox - shows extra effort and a certain diligence.
  • A paper card might be a better fit - depending on the industry. It's important to consider the job you are applying for. If you interviewed for a technology-oriented job, snail mail can make you look antiquated or out of touch. However, if you are looking for a job in a relationship-centered industry, such as a healthcare, nonprofit or sales position, a hand-written note stands out.
  • A note card is an extension of your style and brand. Sending a thank-you note to someone in a creative industry is an opportunity to show your unique personality. A personal monogram, artwork, quality of card stock and an eye-catching stamp can make a favorable impact.

Given the benefits of each method of delivery, here's the bottom line:

  • Definitely do send an email the day of your interview. There is no downside and you will be among others vying for the same position.
  • Consider also sending a follow-up handwritten note. Determine if a mailed card would be valued in the industry and position you seek. If the answer is yes, write it and send it out within 24 hours. It will serve as a well-timed reminder of an ideal candidate.
  • Don't hesitate. It is remarkable how many hiring managers say they do not receive a follow-up note of any kind from interviewees. This one simple act can set you apart from other job seekers and potentially land you the job.
Published on: Nov 12, 2015