Throughout your career, from your first entry-level position through retirement, you will encounter many people who will provide you with help and guidance. Take the time to thank these people with a personal thank-you letter.
Review information on when to send a thank-you email or letter, what to include, and the best options for sending it.
When to Send a Thank-You Note or Email
Sending a thank-you note is almost always a good idea. Research shows that we habitually underestimate how pleased people will be to receive a thank-you letter—and overestimate how awkward it will be to send it. So, if you're ever in doubt about whether to send a note, err on the side of sending it. The recipient will be glad you did.
Plus, expressing thanks will encourage people to help you—and others—in the future. This important courteous gesture can have long-lasting impact on many careers, not just your own.
Thank-you letters don’t need to be complicated or overly long. They can be written in the form of a formal business letter, an email, or a handwritten thank-you card.
What to Include in Your Letter
To make the best impression, your thank-you letter should include:
- An expression of appreciation: This is the most important part of your letter and should come right up front. Say thank you in the first few lines of your message, so that it’s clear that you’re grateful for the recipient’s help.
- Details about the help you received: Be specific about what the person has done and how it has helped you. For example, if a friend gave you a job referral, thank them for their help and let them know if their assistance led to an offer.
- An offer of help in the future: Offer to return the favor should they need assistance later. Careers are long and industries are small worlds. The person who helps you today may need your help tomorrow.
Send your thank-you note soon after you've received the help—the same day, if possible, especially if you’re mailing a business letter or thank-you card. Don’t wait too long because a late thank-you letter may seem more like an afterthought. Worse, you may forget to send the note at all.
Personal Thank-You Letter Example
See below for an example of a personal thank-you letter you can send to people who have assisted you with your job search, as well as tips for how and when to send your letter, and what information to include within it.
587 Chestnut Street
Craneville, New York, 10704
November 14, 2021
800 High Street, Suite 10
Center City, New York 12200
Thank you for all the assistance you have provided me during my job search.
I appreciate the information and advice you have given, as well as the connections you have shared with me. Your expertise and help have been invaluable during this process.
Again, thank you so much. I sincerely appreciate your generosity. Please let me know if I can ever be of assistance to you.
Signature (hard copy letter)
Best Options for Sending Your Letter
There are three basic options for how to send a thank-you letter. Here’s what you should know about each one:
- Business letter: This is a good option for more formal connections. You'll need to include contact information for both you and the letter's recipient, a salutation, and a complimentary close. Don’t forget to personally sign the letter. Of course, in order to mail this letter, you'll need to have your contact's mailing address.
- An email thank-you: If you are sending a thank-you message through email, be sure to include your name and thank you (FirstName LastName - Thank You) in the subject line of the email. Or just include your first name and thank you (FirstName - Thank You) if you know the person well. This is a good option for both formal and informal connections. You can use it to thank a former colleague or a friend who introduced you to a connection.
- A thank-you card: One other option is to mail a thank-you card. Use nice stationery or a card, and your best handwriting. This is a more personal option. Sending a handwritten thank-you note is more common in some industries, such as nonprofit and publishing, than in others. Use your best judgment whether a handwritten note will be well received. Remember to proofread carefully. It can be helpful to type and spellcheck your note first and then hand copy it onto your notecard.