Two Important Words

September 30, 2014


Expressing your appreciation for another’s time and effort may be among the softest skills around. Yet, hard data and numerous studies confirm that a simple “thank you” can make all the difference when it comes to landing a job, retaining a client and building critically important relationships.

1. Student job candidates must send thank-you notes.

It’s hard to beat the title attached to their own infographic: Nothing says “hire me” like “thank you.” According to the on-line job finder, here’s the hard data that supports my claim that a simple thank-you note can make all the difference:

  • 22% employers say they’re less likely to hire a candidate if they don’t send a thank-you note after an interview.
  • 86% said it shows a lack of follow through.
  • 56% said it indicates that the candidate isn’t really serious about the position.
  • 89% said it’s okay to send a thank-you in the form of an email.

Click here to download CareerBuilder’s infographic.

It should go without saying that post-interview thank-you notes must be mistake free. Students should triple-check the spelling of each recipient’s name as well as the name of the employer.

2. If you want to boost work performance, encourage everyone to say “thank you.”

Every successful business I know constantly seeks ways to promote cooperation and encourage performance among individual employees and work groups. It turns out two simple words pack the power to accomplish just that.

Researchers Adam Grant, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and Francesca Gino, Harvard Business School, have quantified the importance of saying “thank you” through a series of studies described in their paper, “A Little Thanks Goes a Long Way: Explaining Why Gratitude Expressions Motivate Prosocial Behavior.” One study looked at two groups of university fundraisers. A supervisor offered public thanks to one group, but not the other. Although there was no change in the average number of calls made by the group that was not thanked, the fundraisers who received a warm two sentence thank you—yes, that’s all it took—made an average of 50% more calls during the subsequent week.

3. If you want to retain clients and customers, a simple “thank you” helps.

Most professional services providers have long believed that it’s far more profitable to retain a current client than to try to land a new one. Now we have data that support this belief. According to Bain and Company, a five percent increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75 percent. And according to Lee Resource Inc., attracting new customers costs companies five times more than keeping an existing customer.

So why do clients leave? In 2012 U.S. News and World Report reported on data collected by the Rockefeller Corporation regarding the reasons clients left their health care providers. Nearly 70 percent quit because of “an attitude of indifference” by one or more persons representing the healthcare entity. Had someone simply said, “Thank you for coming in,” retention may well have improved. 
Please note the results of this analysis have been validated in other service sectors.

4. Say “thank you” for selfish reasons . . . like your health.

A small mountain of gratitude research confirms that thinking about those things for which you are grateful yields health benefits, and those benefits grow when you make the effort to express your gratitude.

Psychologists Robert Emmons, University of California-Davis, and Michael McCullough, University of Miami, divided participants in their study into two groups. One group was asked to write about something that had occurred during the week for which they were grateful, while the other group was asked to write about some of the daily irritations they had encountered. After ten weeks, the researchers found that the group who wrote about their gratitude were more optimistic, felt better about their lives, exercised more, and had fewer visits to physicians than the group who had focused on their problems.

Psychologist Martin Seligman, University of Pennsylvania, asked his study participants to personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who they had never properly thanked for some kindness. Sharing those thank-you notes resulted in a huge increase in participants’ happiness scores, and that benefit lasted a full month.

5. Writing a thank-you note requires little time or effort.

To write the perfect thank-you note, start with a salutation, and then simply draft three short sentences, including:

Sentence 1:  Thank you very much for . . . (Describe the thing or action for which you are grateful, for example, making time in your schedule to interview me.)

Sentence 2:  Describe one thing about the thing or action that made it special to you. (I enjoyed hearing about the current activities of your practice area and the future growth opportunities you foresee.)

Sentence 3:  Describe your follow-up. (I look forward to your final decision. If I do not hear from you within the week, I will follow-up with Recruiting.)

Add an appropriate closing (Sincerely or Regards) and your name, and you’re done!

Thing You Need To Know

Writing a thank-you note or saying "thank you" can help you land a job and build an effective work team.



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