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In which we discuss the etiquette of how to write thank you emails, thank you notes, and thank you cards for all your personal (i.e., grandma) and professional (i.e., after a job interview) needs!

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Created by:
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Written by:
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& T. Michael Martin
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Emma: So not since middle school 'check yes if you like me' notes has a note been more notably noteworthy for causing fear than the thank you note, thank you very much, you're welcome very much.

 Part 1: The personal thank you note

I am talking to myself, which means it's time for Part 1: The Personal Thank You Note.

Sometimes, thank you notes are tough to write, because you're writing them to people who you might not visit very often, but who may show you generosity on an annual basis.  First, presentation is always A++, some nice paper, clear handwriting, a good pen equals A+++.  Next, remember that this thank you note is a symbol of your gratitude and an acknowledgment of the effort and care taken by its recipient.

A well-crafted thank you note paints you as the awesome adult we know you are.  So who gets a note?  There are some fiery debates about this, but we'll just deliver Emily Post's opinion: pretty much anyone who sends you a gift or a handwritten note should I get a handwritten thank you note in return, particularly if they didn't give you the gift or the note in person.  Of course, I can already sense your eyebrow rising.  Emma, it's the year 2015, or a different year if you happen to be watching this in a different year, can't I just send a thank you e-mail?  A thank you texty-text?  Can I thank you swipe in one direction or no thank you swipe in the other direction?  And the answer is yes, you could, but you shouldn't.

Mike: People of the internet, I want you to know, that was all improv and it was amazing.

Emma: Ha-cha-cha.  Firin' on all the cylinders today.  Sure, there are some exceptions, which we'll get to in a moment, but in this digital age of Tweety Snaps, getting a heartfelt note in the mail is exciting and your recipient will appreciate it that much more. 

As for the actual content of a personal thank you note, here's the basic structure:

Number 1: Salutation.  This is where you'd say, "Dear Whatever-I-Call-You-in-Real-Life".

Number 2: The explicit thank you, by which we mean the actual--the words 'Thank You', not like, 'Effing' thank you!"  Not that.

Number 3: A description of how you'll use the gift or why you like it.

Number 4: An extra section to catch up with the recipient or to strengthen your connection.

Number 5: An extra thanks again if you like, unlike the guac at Chipotle, thank yous are free.

Number 6: An adios of some sort, followed by what's called the complimentary closing, ie, 'Sincerely' or 'Lots of Love' or 'Radically, your name here'.

 Part 2: the professional thank you note

But what about those exceptions to the write-it-out rule?  So let's discuss them further in part 2: the professional thank you note.

You wrote a rockin' resume, knocked the job interview out of the park, so now what? Well, according to Brad Karsh, you should send your e-mail thank you note within 24 hours of your job interview. The reason it's recommended you use email vs snail mail is that these notes are time-sensitive and these hiring decisions are often made quickly. The content and style here of course will be a lil different. Let's go through the structure point by point.

Step one, the subject line. "Thank you for (job title) position interview on (date).

Step two,  "Dear Mr. / Mrs. / Ms. / Dr. (last name)" unless they specifically asked you to call them by their first name.

Step three, in the first paragraph, you can start by thanking them for taking the time to interview you for the position. To use an example from, say something like "I appreciate the opportunity to learn more about this job, to meet you and (names of other interviewers) and to see you facilities." Or offices, location, whatever is appropriate.

Step four, in the next paragraph, you can reference things that seemed important to the interviewer. Something along the lines of "As we discussed, I find the technology related to using the Chrono-Copter fascinating and an incredible opportunity for your company, but safety will also be a major concern. Keeping this vehicle's flux lining intact would be a top priority for the person in this job, and I would love to dig deeply into these protective technologies, as well as the threats, to avoid future (and past) problems."

Step five, did you make a personal connection with the person, like maybe you both enjoy hoverboarding on the weekend? Mention here in a new paragraph that you enjoy finding someone with those same interests.

Step six, with your next paragraph, sell yourself to them once again by mentioning your qualifications, skills, technology, tools, or anything that seemed important to the interviewer. For instance "As we discussed, in addition to my Ph.D. in Space-Time Studies from Totally Legit University, I have many years of experience in the time-travel tech under the tutelage of Dr. Emmett Brown. With my background and experience, I believe I could become a contributor to your team very quickly.

Step seven,

Mike: Wrap that baby in a blanket and smack it on the bottom, which is a line I wrote, but Emma wouldn't say, so... OK.

Emma: (laughing) This was our solution.

Finish with something along the lines of "I am excited about this opportunity to join (organization name). Please do not hesitate to email or call me if you have any questions or need any additional information. I look forward to hearing from you (whenever they said they would be in touch or in 10 days if they didn't give you a date). Best regards, Jojo Bunny-Wagon"

What is that, is that a person?

Mike: I just made it up.

Emma: Jojo Bunny-Wagon, if you're out there, please give us a ring, we would love to hear from you.


And that's all we've got for you today. If you have any thank you note tips and tricks, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below, we would love to hear from you. In the meantime, I would like to note: Thank you for your patience in waiting for the new catchphrase. Stick that baby in an envelope, send it your way. There's a thank you note from me to you.