Looking for a job? Say 'Thank you!'

Your mother told you to do it, and now a new survey shows she was right: Sending a thank-you note not only displays impeccable manners but also may give job hopefuls an edge over other applicants. While nearly nine out of 10 of executives polled (88 percent) said sending a thank-you note following an interview can boost a job seeker's chances, they also estimate that half of applicants (49 percent) fail to do so. The good news: More candidates are following up post-interview today than five years ago.

The national poll included responses from 150 senior executives - including those from human resources, finance, and marketing departments - with the nation's 1,000 largest companies. It was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Accountemps, the world's first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals.

Eighty-eight percent of executives said they consider a post-interview thank-you note influential when evaluating candidates, a slight increase from when executives were asked this same question five years ago (86 percent in 2002).

Executives polled said half (51 percent) of the candidates they interview send thank-you notes afterward, compared with 39 percent five years ago.

Executives also were asked, "How do you prefer to receive thank-you messages from candidates following interviews?" Their responses:

52% Handwritten note
44% E-mail
3% Prefer to receive both
1% Don't know

"Regardless of how someone believes he or she performed during the interview, sending a short thank-you note afterward demonstrates initiative and courtesy," said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Managing Your Career For Dummies (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). "Conveying appreciation in a well-written message is not only polite, it also can distinguish a job applicant from others vying for the same position."

Messmer added that the best strategy often is to send an e-mail shortly after the interview, followed by more formal correspondence. "E-mail ensures immediacy, but hiring managers still favor the personal touch of a handwritten note," he said.

According to Accountemps, thank-you notes should be just a few paragraphs in length and accomplish three objectives: Express your appreciation for the opportunity; reinforce your interest in the job; and restate the value you can bring to the organization.

Accountemps has more than 350 offices throughout North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region, and offers online job search services at www.accountemps.com.

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