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Subject:Re: To thank or not to thank... From:"Steven J. Owens" <puff -at- NETCOM -dot- COM> Date:Tue, 1 Jun 1999 10:00:26 -0700
Jean Richardson writes:
> Also, I don't find saying thank you -- in any context -- to be analogous to
> saying "I am not worthy". Rather, it seems to me that you are acknowledging
> the value and "worthiness" of the other person and/or the service she has
> rendered you, which is not the same as denying your worthiness.
Courtesy - professional courtesy - is always appropriate; the
question is whether excessively formal courtesy is necessary.
Frankly, I've seldom felt the need to send a "thank you" letter simply
for its own sake. If there's a need to formally communicate with the
interviewer - for example, providing references, clarifications or
further information - it can be graceful to phrase it as a thank you
Otherwise, I appreciate the professional courtesy of not wasting
my time and I return that courtesy. I don't go on job interviews. I
interview prospective employers. I assume that *unless* the employer
follows up in some fashion, they weren't interested. I don't hesitate
to go on other interviews - even if the interviewer verbally
communicated that an offer would be forthcoming; an offer is only
closed when it's signed, sealed, delivered, and I'm on the job and
receiving a paycheck.
If an interview is scheduled (or even offered) before I receive
an offer, I go on the interview. I don't hesitate to tell prospective
employers that I am communicating with other prospective employers; I
assume that they are communicating with other prospective employees.
Often I'm going through an intermediary, who handles that
communication. One thing I *always* do is make sure to communicate to
any still-open discussions when I accept a position elsewhere, so they
can skip over me and spend their time productively considering
> (And, if you have ever been involved in interviewing candidates for a
> slot of any kind, you know what a huge and often thankless task it is!)
I've been involved in interviewing candidates for a slot;
actually, I have some rather fun stories from that experience. Since
the environment was a rather fast-paced, no-holds-barred job, we took
to using "scare tactics" to try to winnow the potential recruits.
Blunt to the point of shocking them. We tended to say hello, welcome
them, thank them for coming, and then describe an absolute nightmare
of a work situation. We were already running close to the red line
and we needed to be sure any new recruits could hit the ground
In that respect, the situation was a shame. I think if we could
have afforded a "long view" we could have brought in some good
candidates and turned them into real pros. There's far too little of
that these days, and far too much of "we need somebody to come in
tomorrow and produce as if they've been a member of our team, working
with our tools, on our products, for years."
> Perhaps I should note at this point that I am an independent contractor and
> it sounds like most of the people in this thread are talking about staff
> interviews. I think thank you notes are also very important for
> contractors. And, there are a lot of ways you can send a thank you note.
> Sometimes email is appropriate. Sometimes, if you're working in the area
> anyway, dropping it by the front desk yourself later that day or the first
> thing the next morning is appropriate.
I think this points to a general issue most professionals should
be aware of, although it's more important for a contractor who moves
from position to position more frequently, and even more important for
an independent contractor or consultant. Maybe it points to a
fundamental truth a lot of people have forgotten these days;
relationships take work.
You need to put a regular, consistent effort into maintaining
your connections with people. Opportunities for this come along often
enough in our personal lives, but we need to keep an eye towards
activities and interactions that build and strengthen our professional
relationships. This can be as simple as making a conscious effort to
track and remember people, and maintain regular contact with them. It
can mean participation in a professional organization or forum.
It should go sideways and down as well as up. Keep an eye out
for how you can help people at your level and above; steer people
towards jobs and jobs towards people. Look for opportunities to
assist younger professionals. The immediate reward is to be inspired
by their enthusiasm and fresh insight; the long-term reward is the
development and furthering of your professional community.
I've just recently, I think, started to enter this phase of my
career. For a long time I've been preoccupied with helping fellow
professionals by way of technologically enabling them. I'm just
starting to realize I have other things to offer.