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Manners Matter

© Meg Montford, Business & Career Coach

“Being gracious in life will carry you far,” espoused the newest United States Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser. Attending my son's recent college graduation ceremony, I listened as Mr. Kooser delivered the keynote address. Speaking to the graduates, he assured them that his words would be brief and forgave them in advance if they didn't remember much of his speech. Attracted to the manner of this 35-year-career insurance man turned poet, I hurriedly reached for a scrap of paper to scribble a few notes.

Mr. Kooser told the graduates that when they left with diploma in hand they needed only one other thing to enter the world - a box of blank thank you notes. He asked these young achievers to heed his one bit of advice as they began their new lives. Yes, they needed thank you notes to acknowledge their graduation gifts, but much more than that, they would need thank you notes throughout their journey of lifelong learning.

While in a job search, expressing your thanks is critical. Besides demonstrating good manners, it can keep your name and face in the forefront. Of course, the most obvious time to send a formal thank you is following a job interview - even a not-so-good one. But there are other times when a thank you is not only good manners but also good strategy:

– You receive a referral from a networking contact / colleague / business associate - send a thank you note to show your appreciation, or sending a token gift is even better.

– You ask a colleague / peer / VIP for assistance or advice - send a thank you with a brief follow-up as to how the advice helped you.

– You work with a recruiter who refers you to an interview with an employer - send a thank you note that will help keep your name on his desk.

– You get a rejection letter from an employer - send a thank you letter thanking him again for the opportunity to interview, and let him know that you would still like to work for him someday.

– You land the job - send a thank you to each of your references irregardless of how many times they were contacted by your prospective employers.

– You land the job - send a thank you note to each networking contact with whom you connected throughout your job search, even if you've already thanked them once.

– You land the job - send a thank you letter to your new employer reiterating the terms of your new position.

I'm sure you can think of more times when saying thank you is a good idea. In conclusion, I just want to say, "Thank You," for reading this newsletter!

(Published in the AE News, January 2005)

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