The Case Against the Handwritten Thank You Note

Yes – you read that right. I’m not sure you should send a handwritten thank you after your interview. I know that the formal thank you note has been the gold standard for classy candidates for the past several decades, but like the phone book, I think of it as an idea whose time may have passed. Here are 5 reasons why.

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  1. If you’re a mature jobseeker, one of your personal branding priorities should be to impress the company with your comfort with technology. The reason a handwritten note stands out is that it’s an analog gesture in a digital world. If you’re worried in any way that your skills may be perceived as out of date, perhaps an email would position you as more tech-savvy.
  2. I don’t know about you, but my handwriting does not reflect my inner calligrapher. My handwriting slants upward at about a 60-degree angle and makes every note look lopsided. The reader may think I’m optimistic if she’s a fan of handwriting analysis, or she may just think it looks sloppy. I tend to think faster than I can write legibly, so it would take me three or four attempts at copying over my note to make it perfectly neat and legible. I would rather spend my time crafting great email content than copying my sentences over and over like Bart Simpson at the blackboard.
  3. Unlike notes, emails can be shared at the click of a key. That means that the recruiter can forward your comments to the other decision makers in the process. Your thank you email should always contain some insights you gained from the interview and reiterate how interested you are in the position – it’s also your chance to revisit how your skills and experience are a match for the job.
  4. With email, you have the advantage of spelling and grammar checks. (Of course you always have that feature enabled, don’t you?) You’ll be much less likely to make an error in an email than if you rely on your own proofreading skills. And, you can clean up a mistake with a couple of keystrokes instead of starting over on a new notecard. (See #2 above.)
  5. You can add attachments to your email. You can send a link to an industry article you mentioned in the interview, or add references or a writing sample that was requested by the company. You can link to your LinkedIn profile or an organization where you volunteer. The digital possibilities are endless.

For all these reasons, it may be time to switch to email. If it doesn’t feel old school enough to impress an employer, remember that the first email was sent in 1971. That makes it 44-year-old technology –older than the fax machine (invented in 1980.) Unlike the fax machine, email is still an acceptable business practice. Drop the pen and nobody gets hurt.

5 thoughts on “The Case Against the Handwritten Thank You Note

  1. Deb Cottle


    This is a great blog about the handwritten note. I’ve been a firm believer in this way of communication, but after reading this article, you may have changed my mind!

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    Deb Cottle


  2. Do you have data that backs up your assertion? In fact, do you have data that says either version of a thank you note is taken seriously today? I found neither one helped me. However, I was not a finalist for the job, just wanted to say thanks. Some interviews feel better than others.


    1. Sending a thank you is always well-received, even if you get no reply or direct benefit. I’ve spoken to dozens of recruiters over the years, and they all say it makes a difference in how they perceive the candidates.


  3. […] know what you’re thinking: aren’t you the girl who just wrote that the handwritten thank you may be finished? Yes. But that was about communicating; this is about […]


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