Jan2120099:36 am

A Word of Thanks

I recently saw an article by Richard Nelson Bolles, author of a particularly popular book entitled What Color is Your Parachute?  This book on careers was one of those books, much like Dick Irish’s Go Hire Yourself an Employer, that helped shape the career paths of many.  Mark and I hope Working World will have that far reaching impact.  The authors of these books did not only provide useful resources and advice, they offered a philosophical approach for making your mark on the world. 

So it was a delight to see Mr. Bolles’ article “The Informational Interview: How It Can Help You Get a Job In Tough Times” that appeared in the January 1, 2009 issue of Bottom Line Personal. 

One point he underscored was to send thank-you notes the same day as the interview.  Here is his advice:

Ask the person you interviewed for his/her business card.  Then send an e-mail so that the person you talked to has a prompt response from you.  Also send a hand-written note to arrive a day or two later.  Do this for any interview you have.  Many job seekers ignore this very simple advice.  Following it will help you stand out from the crowd.

His advice is well-taken.  A carefully crafted thank-you note is another opportunity to showcase your communications skills.  It shows you paid attention.  I received the following handwritten card after an information interview with several people.  You can be sure I will remember the young woman who wrote it.

Dear Sherry,

Thank you for setting aside time to meet with me — and others — this afternoon.  It was so very useful to know where to look for some of that data.  I’ve had great fun with this thesis topic, and am still clarifying.  My hope is that I can produce something that is truly useful for promoting understanding of public diplomacy — we shall see!  After I contact Michelle and Sherri, I will probably drop you a line via email.  This time I wanted to send a real card — something a bit more concrete to show my appreciation for the work that you do so well: encouraging individuals to make a difference through direct interaction.

Best Regards

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2 Responses to “A Word of Thanks”

  1. Yaheiry Galan says:

    Great advice. As a recent graduate involved in a time and energy-consuming job searching process I admit i often overlook this step. As i read the note i was able to understand that it is indeed a very important step when you are interviewing. Thank you for sharing it.

    Also, quick question…What would you say is the most effective way to ask for an informational interview and avoid that the other person thinks it is to ask for employment?

  2. Mark Overmann says:


    Thanks so much for your comment. My take on your question would be this:

    First off, just to get this out there, if you’re applying for an open position, it’s too late to do an informational interview at that particular organization. You need to just apply for the position and definitely should not try to set up an informational interview in the hope that it will serve as a de facto interview before you’ve actually gotten the call for a real interview. [Not that you were implying this, but I think it's an important point to me.]

    But if you’re looking for a job and/or just trying to find out more about what is out there, and you find an organization that piques your interest, by all means, email or call and set up an informational interview. In setting this meeting up, I don’t think you need to be shy about letting them know that you are on the market for a job (or even about providing them with a copy of your resume).

    However, to avoid any misperceptions that you are asking for employment, explain very clearly what your goal for the informational interview is: you are looking for a job in the fields and you came across this person/his organization and you think that what he/the organization does is very intriguing and you’d like to pick his brain. Most people are more than happy to talk with you about what they do, especially if you make it clear that you are not expecting anything from them—except a little friendly advice and information.

    This kind of information gathering is very common and I don’t think there will be any problems as long as you make your intentions clear, and then stick to those intentions. And what you’ll accomplish with an informational interview is two-fold: 1) you’ll gather more information to help in your job search, and 2) you’ll put yourself and your resume in front of a contact in the fields, make yourself a known quantity and let it be known that you are looking for a job. Then perhaps when a job does open up with that organization, you’ll be one of the first ones that they think of.

    This is just my take– I know Sherry is uber-swamped planning for the NCIV National Meeting right now, but I’m sure she’ll be able to throw in her two cents once all that is behind her.

    Thanks for reading and participating!


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