To maximize your chances of landing a job, put your best foot forward before, during and after an interview. Even if you feel you’ve aced an interview with a potential employer, you still have a chance to reinforce your position with a follow-up letter. Re-capping what happened during your interview takes thoughtful planning, but doing so can give you that final edge over your competition.
Organize your content before you begin writing. Divide your letter into five areas: thanking the employer, highlighting positives from the meeting, addressing negatives that came up, confirming your interest in the job, and highlighting an important fact in a postscript. Determine how you will cover each succinctly to keep your letter to one page of easy-to-read text, as opposed to a rambling wall of copy.
Begin your letter by thanking your interviewer for the opportunity to talk about the position and reiterate your interest. Use a two-sentence combination such as, “Thank you for the opportunity to interview for the director of sales position. After our meeting, I’m confident I can help XYZ Company increase its sales and remain very interested in the position.” If you discussed a specific need the company has for the position, address it. For example, write, “I am particularly confident in my ability to help XYZ Company re-organize its sales department’s invoicing procedures and train current staff in consultative selling techniques.”
Highlight any information that seemed to interest the interviewer to remind him of your strengths. You might write, “As we discussed, I will be able to create a sales training manual for you and conduct in-house or online seminars to train your staff. I've done this kind of work in previous jobs and helped our department increase yearly sales by 20 percent.” Avoid a generic re-statement of your qualifications. Instead, stick to specific information your interviewer asked you to expand on.
Address any issues you felt might have hurt your chances for the job, if applicable. Only mention this if something important came up that sent the interview in a negative direction, and avoid sounding defensive. Review your interview notes to determine if you did not get a chance to make a point you wanted or felt the interviewer got a negative impression about an aspect of your work history, such as a lack of experience in a particular area. Address the negative in a positive way. Do not say something like, “Although I only have two years’ of experience in sales, I feel I can handle a director position." Instead, write, “During my years as a sales rep for ABC Corp., I worked closely with the sales director, learning her management duties and assisting her with setting territory quotas and training new staff.”
Close your follow-up letter with a reiteration of your desire to work for the company, your confidence in your ability to do the job, and an offer to answer any other questions the interviewer might have. Finish with a thank-you and tell the interviewer you look forward to hearing from him.
Finish your letter with a P.S. that highlights a key piece of information you want to stand out from the body of your letter. Keep it short -- one or two sentences -- so it does not look like it should have been in the body of the letter. The information should be important, but not directly related to other information in your letter. For example, if you are working toward a certification, you might add, "P.S. I am working toward Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification by May of this year." This closes the letter on a positive note and provides even more evidence of your fitness for the job.
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