February 23, 2012

Distinguish Yourself: Handwritten Notes Still Work

By: Roger Custer

How can you distinguish yourself when applying for a job? It may seem old-fashioned, but handwritten notes may be one way to seal the deal for you.

Whether you are thanking interviewers for the opportunity to discuss a new position, thanking donors for their gifts, or even writing a simple note to say you appreciated an author’s book or advice you received from a mentor, a handwritten note will clearly distinguish yourself.

In today’s digital age when it is simple to fire off an email in two seconds, handwritten notes can be a clear way to distinguish yourself. The simple act of taking a few moments to write to someone shows that you care and makes you stand out above and beyond your peers.

In the case of thanking an author, business leader, writer, TV personality, radio host, or other role model, you could also ask the person for an in-person meeting for advice on your career. Many well-known leaders in our movement enjoy mentoring young people and offering career advice. It certainly distinguishes you when you are the one person who took time to thank the leader for his or her work with a nice letter!

While better to send an email to follow up on a job interview than to send nothing (which some people do!), the handwritten note really distinguishes you. If I have to choose between two applicants who have similar background and qualifications for the job, I usually favor the candidate who took time to write me a handwritten note.

Make sure you spell everything correctly and use neat penmanship. I recommend writing out your note on a word processor with spell check so you can spell everything correctly. Start with a friendly greeting (Dear Mr. So and So,) and end with a cordial closer (Sincerely, Cordially, or Best). Double check your similar words (their, there, they’re, your, you’re, etc) and punctuation. If your handwriting is too sloppy or hard to read, consider typing and printing a letter to the recipient, which will also distinguish you. You can always personalize a typed letter by writing “Thank you!” next to your signature at the bottom.

Roger Custer is Executive Director of America’s Future Foundation. Please visit the AFF Career Center to learn more about job opportunities, and get career advice from top conservative and libertarian professionals.