The Value of a Thank You

Column: Finding the Good
by Caitlin Ludwig 

My mother is a firm believer in hand written thank you notes.  Every year as kids, we were expected to write out thank you notes anytime we received any sort of gift.  This usually resulted in thanks you on our birthdays and at Christmas.  Unfortunately, my birthday falls only a few short weeks before Christmas so to my 9 year old self, it seemed the thank you notes were absolutely endless during the month of December.  Oh the agony….

Now, looking back on the horrendous task of sending thoughtful, well written thank you notes to my family and friends turned out to not be so bad.  Dare I say, the habit of sending thank you notes has even served me well during my professional years.  I guess I owe my mom a thank you… (perhaps I’ll send a note… in the meantime, THANKS MOM!)

I can’t believe how overlooked the power of a thank you note is now a days.  Despite my memory of thank you notes taking hours, days and weeks to complete, I can now crank out a good old fashioned thank you (yes, on actual paper with an actual pen) in only a few minutes.  What amazes me is that this small habit has set me apart from many of my peers. During second interviews for jobs, I actually received comments that I was the only applicant to send a thank you note and that was a huge reason for me being asked back.  Thank you notes have opened doors for me and made a lasting impression with those I have worked to create a professional relationship with.  Thank you notes have become a way to stand out rather than the norm.

So I have to ask… Why the lack of manners?  Are we ask young professionals so busy with our own lives that we can’t be bothered to fish out some nice stationary and a stamp?  Sure, email thank yous are great but nothing says “I really care” more than actual ink to paper.  In a world of flooded inboxes, hand written thank you notes stand out.

So when to say “thanks!”?  Perhaps someone has given you a lead that turned into a great business opportunity; maybe you heard a speaker at an event that really inspired you; perhaps a leader took the time to offer advice or mentor you on changing careers.  All of these are “thank-you” appropriate.  Trust me, the 44cents you spend to send the letter will pay off oodles in your professional career.

In today’s age, it’s all about setting yourself apart.  Whether you’re on the job hunt or are just looking to make a name for yourself, don’t forget the basics.  Manners will help propel you above your competition.

If you didn’t have a great mom like mine, feel free to ask for advice on how to write a good thank you.  I’m happy to share the wisdom my mom gave to me.  To get started, grab some good blank, professional looking thank you notes and keep them in your desk drawer at work.  You never know when an extra personal touch is exactly what you needed.



~ by caitlinludwig on July 12, 2011.

2 Responses to “The Value of a Thank You”

  1. Thank you notes are HUGE. Very rarely do we receive a thank you note for anything we are technically paid to do, but when we do, the effect is priceless. I can still remember the residents who have sent them to me, and it makes me feel like someone at sometime value what I contribute to society. When I write one, I hope it conveys that I think enough about he/she and what they did to take time out of my day and thank them. I admit to not writing them as often as I should, but have now been reinspired 😉

  2. Great post, Caitlin! Thank you notes have gotten me far professionally for the same reasons they helped you — so few people send them nowadays that they really stand out. What great advice for today’s YPs! — Mika Doyle

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