Always write thank you notes. Not thank you emails. Or thank you tweets. Or thank you inbox messages. I’m talking old school, handwritten thank you notes.

By Abby (Stollar Ecker) |

Next up in this series about avoiding unemployment: Always write thank you notes. Not thank you emails. Or thank you tweets. Or thank you inbox messages. I’m talking old school, handwritten thank you notes.

I promise you — this is what will set you apart. For every five people that read this, I’d guess one of you (maybe two if you all are super ambitious!) will actually do this. And that one individual will be the person who successfully avoids unemployment.

Now, I don’t have statistics on this, but I do have my own success story for avoiding unemployment — and it includes a lot of handwritten thank you notes. (Do with that anecdote as you please.)

  1. Invest in some blank cards. The first step is to buy a few blank notes that reflect your personal brand. Some people will tell you to purchase some blank notes monogrammed with your initials — which is definitely a great idea. (I’ve never actually done this, but I’d recommend checking out Vistaprint if you’d like too — you could order your business cards at the same time!) However, if you’re on a budget or just aren’t sure how to start, head to the closest grocery/drug/general store, go to the card aisle, and pick up a few packages of blank notes. (TJ Maxx is actually one of my favorite places to find great notes for reduced prices! I’ve also been able to find some quality blank notes at the Dollar Store — you can’t beat eight for $1.00!) It doesn’t matter exactly what they look like, but my best suggestions are to look for something that’s simple, professional, and reflects you. (Hint: Avoid notes with hot pink envelopes.)

  2. Know when to write. Handwritten notes are supposed to be somewhat unique, so you don’t want to write a note to someone every time you get a business card. However, if you go on an informational, internship, or job interview, you better start writing!

  3. Keep it brief and professional. Not sure what to write? My best answer is stick to three sentences. In the first sentence, thank the individual for their time/interest/etc. In the second sentence, mention something unique to the interview. (If it’s an informational interview, reiterate a great piece of advice the professional shared. If it’s a job or internship interview, highlight one quality you discussed in the interview that would make you a good candidate for the position.) In the last sentence, address an action for the future. (If it’s for a job, write about how you’ll follow-up with a phone call, email, etc. If it’s from an informational interview, I recommend saying that you look forward to connecting again in the future.) P.S. Always begin with “Dear Mr./Ms.” and end with “Sincerely, ______”

  4. Make it personal. Don’t let it become forced and stiff! Let your personality show through a little bit and always try to recap something that you talked about.

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