In an earlier post, we talked about the need to send a thank you to anyone who will see you as part of the job search, and dealt with tactics for sending a thank you card. This post is all about strategy.

The whole point of the thank you card is that it helps build a relationship. If you got along with the person you saw, you’ve solidified the relationship with the card. If you didn’t get along, the card won’t hurt anything! Remember, the thank you card is all about them; not about you!

One thing that makes the thank you card so valuable is that almost no one sends them anymore. So, when you do, the impact is out of all proportion to the event! So, let’s talk about how to maximize success with the thank you card.

The card should be folded, blank on the inside, and have a picture on the front. That picture should be of something the person you’re sending it to can relate to. It should match their office environment, or culture. This can be a challenge, because if you don’t meet in their office, you won’t know what that environment is. And you can’t guess. In one building where I worked, all the common areas of our offices were filled with contemporary cut paper “art” that I loathed. My office had about six pictures of ducks. If you and I met in the conference room, you would have no idea that I liked ducks!

By the way, if you do meet in their office, don’t obsess on what you see. A client of mine was role playing a meeting with my associate in a workshop we were doing. He walked into my colleague’s office, spotted a large brass deer on the credenza, and immediately asked, “Oh, I see the deer there.Do you hunt?” Mark replied, “Uh, no. It was there when I got here.” This prompted the client to go crazy. “You don’t hunt? Oh, hunting is great!” There followed a few minutes on the joy of the outdoors, the feeling of satisfaction one gets in hunting, and so forth. “Venison!” my client shouted. “Do you like venison?” “No,” Mark said. I, um, I don’t eat venison.” There followed several minutes on the delights of properly prepared venison, complete with recipes.Finally, Mark interrupted and said, and it was true, “I’m a vegetarian!”

End of meeting! Get the point?

In our first meeting after he started his search, a client of mine sat down with sort of a smirk on his face.“What’s that about?” I asked.

“I’ve got it figured out,” he said.“I went out and bought a box of golf cards, a box of fishing cards, a box of hunting cards, and a box of historical cards. I’ve got Richmond covered!” (This was at a time when there were fewer women in management positions.) He was pretty close!

Here’s the idea. If you have taken the time and trouble to find a card that appeals to me, the person with whom you have met, I like you.

If you’re a millennial, or a techno-wizard, you probably think this is a bit over the top, and you see no reason to do anything other than send an email.

Well, get over it! There is no relationship in an email. There is also no guarantee that I’ll even see it, because I get tons of email, most of it trash, every day, and I’m really good at deleting it!

I was meeting with a young client and we were discussing a related topic. “Now, you would probably prefer an email,” I said. She looked askance at me and said, “Oh please! I get 200 emails a day! A letter’s special!”

If you meet with more than one person, as in a sequential interview, each person you meet gets a card. And each card says something different, related to your conversation. They will compare them! And if you have said the same thing on each card, that’s worse than sending nothing!

So, this is the strategy behind the thank you card. Finding (and maintaining) employment is all about building and nurturing relationships. This is the first step in developing the network.

back to archives