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Golden Guide Career Advice: Use Your Words

Lydia Lazar

red 'thank you' card next to fountain pen

Golden Tip No. 19: Express Appreciation Using Your Words

Golden Guide Career Advice is a series from the AMA in partnership with Lydia Lazar, author of Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People. A new tip in the series will be posted each Tuesday—all tips are available here.

Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at deardeanlazar@gmail.com—the answer may appear in a future post.

“Thank-you” notes help you build your social vocabulary and are an important part of building your personal social capital. Stay in touch with people who have met and helped you. Sending thank-you letters is part of stepping up and taking responsibility for how people will remember you. Were you sincere? Did you follow up?

Thank-you notes as follow-ups to interviews are critical. In most situations, you address a thank-you email formally: “Dear Mr./Mrs. ______,” but if the situation is more informal, you may address the recipient by their first name.

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Be sure to use whatever pronouns you hear in your meeting when you write your thank-you note. For example, perhaps you met with your potential boss James and several other people, and one of them, Charles, was referred to as “she” in the meeting. In your thank you note to James, if you refer to Charles, be sure to use her full name and/or use the correct pronoun: “I really appreciated the way that you and Charles explained the challenges of the position and how Charles explained her management style.”

Send thank you emails within 24 hours after an interview unless you are traveling or otherwise indisposed. Especially for positions where you will be expected to interact with customers, or develop new business, management wants to know that you are truly enthusiastic about the position and that you do not procrastinate.

Use your words to connect with and update the people in your life. Let mentors and others know what is going on with you – even if you don’t have “big news” to share, you can reach out with a quick hello and share an article that reminded you of them or about something you two discussed.  Ask about their lives, too, and offer your assistance if that’s appropriate. By taking the time to strengthen your human connections, you will constantly increase your social capital which helps prepare you to be lucky in your career!

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.


Dean Lazar's Golden Guide

For more career tips, read Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People, available on Amazon and at your local bookstore. Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at deardeanlazar@gmail.com—the answer may appear in a future post.

Lydia Lazar is founder and president of LHL Consulting. She is the former associate dean for recruitment and career services at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, and previously, dean of international law and policy overseeing international student admissions (LLM) at Chicago-Kent College of Law.