One common bit of job-application advice is to hand-write a thank-you note after an interview. • Actually, it's a good idea to write to anyone who gives you a job reference or significant networking help.
Those recommendations typically elicit two questions from readers:
• Does it have to be handwritten?
• What difference does it make?
As to the first question: A handwritten note should be just that — not typed or e-mailed.
Why? A handwritten note will separate you from the e-mailing crowd.
Sure, a note card can be tossed, but it's more likely to be absorbed and handled again than an e-mail that can be zapped in a flash or filed in an e-mail folder never to be looked at again.
Here's an important warning, though: Make sure your handwriting is legible.
Legible cursive handwriting seems to be an increasingly lost art. If your cursive is more of a scrawl that's hard to read, you might consider printing the note.
But block printing can look infantile. So unless your printing style is artful, you need to be careful.
To answer the second question:
A thank-you note may make a difference — if you're sincere and to the point.
Granted, some prospective employers may react cynically. They'll see it as following formulaic best-practice advice.
But some will be pleasantly surprised. Still others will be appreciative, especially if you learned their names and spelled them right.
Whatever the format, a good thank-you note expresses appreciation for their time and your interest in the job.
It doesn't have to be long. Just two or three sentences is all it takes.
It's easy to get frustrated in a job search and think you're owed for your time, that you should be the one to get the thank-you note.
But that's not the way the work world works. The employer gave you something of value — their time and the chance for a job.
Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at the Kansas City Star.