Always remembering to thank a hiring manager for an interview, a networking contact who has offered you career advice, or a classmate who has offered to share her class notes with you is professional, polite behavior that can impact your future career as an attorney. Saying the magic words doesn’t simply benefit the recipient, but also the person offering thanks.
Whether you’re thanking someone for their time or a small kindness, the benefits are enormous. The show of gratitude could help you stand out, strengthen your relationship with the person being thanked, encourage the recipient to keep being helpful, and it says something about the person you are in the process.
It’s no secret that a simple thank you e-mail will help a job candidate outshine the rest. About 15 percent of hiring managers will throw out the resumes of the people who don’t send thank you notes, according to a CareerBuilder survey.
Plus, almost everyone likes getting little notes. The act of thanking someone for something they’ve done has become so rare, that in most cases it will make you more memorable, because it creates a positive association between you and the person being thanked. If the note is for a job, it lets the hiring manager know you’re excited about the position. That interest may break the tie between you and another candidate. If it’s a thank you for some advice, the advisor will know you’re not someone who takes her time for granted, and that if she refers you to a colleague, you will most likely behave in a courteous manner with that colleague as well. Your peers in law school will soon be your colleagues in the legal world: make it easy for your future colleagues to have no doubts about referring a prospective client to your services by demonstrating that your professionalism now. Always expressing gratitude, no matter how small the act, makes the receiver more likely to want to help you the next time you need something.
Whether you send an e-mail or mail a letter, make sure you don’t delay in saying thanks. Simple is usually better. Two sentences may be all you really need. Often, students agonize over what to write, and weeks or even months pass without an acknowledgement. A quick, two-line thank you sent via email within 48 hours is preferable to a longer note sent much later.
If you have some news to report, have followed the advice of someone and would like to describe the result, or have thought of something to add to the conversation that you forgot during your previous interaction, you can mention it in a thank you note. If it happens later, you should send another note. This is the foundation of relationship-building.
The most important thing to remember about thank you notes is to make sure they are error-free. A small typo or grammar error could leave you looking careless or thoughtless. Have someone else read the note to help spot any typos or ambiguities before you hit send or mail it. If no one is around, read the note backwards, a sentence at a time, starting from the last sentence.
Sample Thank You Emails:
* * * (For a networking contact) * * *
Dear Ms. Cohen,
Thank you for taking the time to talk to me the other day about your family law practice in St. Louis. I really gained an appreciation for the ins-and-outs of handling father-side child custody and support cases. I have already sent an email to your friend in Kansas City, Robert Sampson, and I look forward to an opportunity to speak with him soon.
Thank you again for your time,
* * * (For a friend or relative) * * *
Thank you again for offering to send my resume to your cousin at the City Attorney’s Office. I wanted to let you know that I just got a call, and they have asked me to come in next week for an interview for a possible summer internship! I really appreciate your assistance in helping me make contact — this is an excellent opportunity for me. I will let you know how it goes.
* * * (Following a job interview) * * *
your street address
city, state zip code
Mr. Albert Franklin
Black, Cunningham & Franklin, LLP
city, state zip code
Dear Mr. Franklin:
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me yesterday. After speaking with you and learning more about the structure of Black, Cunningham & Franklin’s summer program, I am even more enthusiastic about the possibility of working there next summer. I particularly enjoyed hearing about your work in representing several automobile manufacturers in products liability cases.
If I can provide you with any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.