TO THE EDITOR:
It is commendable that you have encouraged students to send handwritten notes of congratulations or appreciation to their professors, advisors and mentors. Such notes are very much valued and stand out because the student has taken the time to write a handwritten note rather than send a quick email.
However, this type of correspondence is social correspondence, which is quite different from business correspondence. A handwritten note is too casual for business correspondence, which includes “thank-you” or follow-up letters after an interview for a job or internship.
These should be typed, not handwritten. Moreover, employers today often make hiring decisions (especially regarding bringing students in for a second interview) with such speed — sometimes overnight — that a mailed thank-you letter may arrive days after the employer has made second interview offers; this puts the student who sent a mailed letter at a disadvantage.
After resisting for several years recommending that students send email follow-up letters, based on feedback from hundreds of employers I now recommend that students send typed, PROOFREAD, letters to employers by email immediately after their interview.
While such a letter may not sway the employer to reconsider a student that he or she has already decided isn’t a fit, it sometimes gives the borderline candidate a bit of a bump in a positive direction.
Marcia B. Harris
UNC Wood-Cole Program Director
Former Director, UNC University Career Services
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