A Yale Career Coach Reveals the Common Mistake That Could Keep You From Your Dream Job

Photo: Getty Images / Maskot
When you're shopping the job market, Ariana Grande-level success (as in, "I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it") is pretty much the dream. Furthering a career is a complicated formula though. As much as we all may want to live out the lyrics of one ponytailed pop star, landing a shiny new gig requires resumes, references, cover letters—and, oh, the all-important post-interview thank you note.

According to career experts at Yale University’s Office of Career Strategy, the timing, content, and duration of your letter of gratitude can help you earn—or lose—points when interviewers look to score you against other candidates, CNBC reports. The email (or hand-written letter) should be between 250 to 350 words, sent within 24 to 48 hours after you leave the interview, and grammatically flawless. Formalities are necessary, too: thank them for their time, remind them how interested you are in the position, and dazzle them what past qualifications make you a strong candidate.

Beyond the nitty gritty details, the Yale experts explain that personalizing the content to reflect what you would add to the company, as well as what you hope to gain by scoring a desk will make you stand out. Susie Moore, life coach and author of career book What If It Does Work Out?, specifies that this looks like highlighting your takeaways from the interview: "I'd love the opportunity to help you achieve your goals with X project this year." If you spoke to several different managers during your interview process, make sure you send them individual notes with content that speaks to them as individuals (e.g., "I'd love to work with your team on X and X, as discussed").

Before you hit send, see if you can sprinkle one last dash of you-ness in the text. After all, your recipients will be receiving many a thank you—you'll need to stand out. The folks at Yale recommend bringing up a selling point you forgot to mention, resurfacing a small detail they said in the interview, or sharing something you learned about the company. "It shows your interest, professionalism and it's the best way to show gratitude and affirm your interest for the role," says Moore. "Remember that interviewing is a two way street. Let this boost your confidence!"

For reference, take a look at Yale's sample letter. Don't copy/paste it though! After all, no one like a cookie cutter thank you note.

Our Good@Work column dives deep on hacking your career. Here's what to do if your work friend has become an energy vampire. Plus, what to do if you sold yourself short in salary negotiation

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