Though Thanksgiving is behind us, let us not be quick to move on from this season of gratitude. In the midst of final classes, papers, projects, and exams, take some time to stop and reflect on this past semester. What has brought you joy? What has made you laugh? What has allowed you to grow? What are you proud of? What (and who) are you most thankful for? Practicing gratitude is not just a good idea in theory, but it has been proven to increase mental, physical, and emotional health. I’m sure we could all use a little of that in a time that is typically pretty stressful for students. (Check out this Forbes article for more awesome benefits of thankfulness.)
So what does gratitude have to do with career development? So much! There are so many opportunities to practice gratitude in the working world, and getting into the habit of saying ‘thank you’ now as a student can only help you as you begin to build professional relationships.
One common way to give thanks professionally is by sending thank-you notes. This may sound simple, but depending on the situation, these can sometimes be intimidating to write. Below are some tips on how to construct and send a thank-you note with ease while also following professional etiquette.
When should I give a thank-you note?
The obvious answer is “whenever you feel thankful.” However, showing thankfulness when we feel it is not always at the forefront of our minds, and when we get busy, stopping to give thanks is one of the first things we forget to do. Taking the time to write a thank-you note can be very meaningful for a professional relationship.
In case you tend to forget this important deed, here are a few situations in which you should take the time to write and send a thank-you note: after an interview for graduate school or a job, when someone helps you receive an advancement or award, when someone speaks on your behalf as a professional reference, or when someone does something significant outside of their ordinary job duties to help or serve you.
What type of thank-you note do I give?
Determine how professional the correspondence is between you and the person you are giving the note to. The more professional the relationship, the more formal the note or letter should appear. For the highest level of professionalism, use strong-grade paper and a letterhead if one is available to you. If you are using a pre-printed card, make sure the outside appears simple yet formal. When writing your note by hand, make sure you are using a smooth, fine-tip black pen that won’t smudge.
For less formal occasions in which you want to show gratitude, a regular thank-you card or a memo via email will suffice. For all situations, it’s important to remember who your audience is and consider what they would find appropriate and most meaningful.
What should I say in a thank-you note?
No matter the level of professionalism of your note, make it personal! Generic letters may show little effort and risk appearing disingenuous. Address the recipients by name. Within your first few sentences, state specifically what you are thankful for and how it has benefited or impacted you. If you are writing a full letter, feel free to expand upon that by stressing the importance of their help and mentioning specific positive attributes they demonstrated through their work. Close your note by offering future correspondence and reiterating your thankfulness. If you have typed your note, be sure to sign it by hand.
Remember that it’s important to remain positive and enthusiastic throughout your note, but make sure to keep it truthful. Going overboard with praise beyond what is true to you and the situation may also run the risk of appearing disingenuous.
Timeliness is important. It is best to send your note within a week of the occurrence for which you are giving thanks so it remains relevant. When hand-delivering a card or letter, seal it in an envelope with at least the recipient’s name on the front. If you send the thank-you note through the mail, make sure you know the correct mailing address, as some offices have a mailing address that is different from their physical location.
Now that you have reflected on this semester and received tips on how to write a professional thank-you note, show your gratitude to some people before the semester runs out! It will truly make their day!
As always, we enjoy serving and working with UNCG students, and we want to say THANK YOU for another great semester! You help turn our passions into a reality as we watch you all grow from eager students to prepared professionals. Our interactions are so valuable, and we truly learn so much from you all every semester, which in turn equips us even further to give you all the best service we can give. Thank you for being the best, Spartans. We look forward to seeing you in 2016!
P.S. If you need us over the break, we’ll still be offering appointments!