The One Thing That Makes Exceptional Job Candidates Stand Out

You’ve done everything right in your job search. Résumé? Check. Cover letter? Finished. Research for the interview? Done.

In fact, you’ve already had your first interview on Friday and completely hit it out of the ballpark. For every question that was thrown your way, you were able to answer with knowledge and enthusiasm, providing great examples of why you are the best candidate.

Afterwards, as you are walking out the door, you are congratulating yourself on a job well done and are confident that the job is ‘in the bag.’ You head home, and are quickly caught up in a weekend whirlwind of activity, all the while thinking in the back of your mind what a great job you did in the interview.

Except for one thing.

You didn’t seal the deal. There’s something that you neglected to do that would have set you apart as an exceptional candidate.

Most of us (yours truly included) at some point have positively FAILED to do the one thing that would help position ourselves as the absolute top candidate.

We simply forgot to thank the prospective employer for the interview.

It’s a simple courtesy.

But it can make the difference as to whether you get the job by setting you apart not just as a viable candidate, but as an exceptional candidate.

A short thank you note is the best way to distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack.


In the world of advertising, the rule of thumb is that it takes a minimum of five (5) impressions before a message begins to stick. As you look holistically at the entire interview process, each interaction with the target company is an impression that serves to ‘brand’ you to that organization. The thank you note is the icing on the cake. The cherry on top of the sundae. It makes the deal complete, and it conveys a level of professionalism and efficiency that reassures the employer that they would make the right decision in hiring you.

A staggering 96% of all interviewees do NOT send thank you notes. Let’s put it this way: Wouldn’t you want to be in the top 4% of your interview ‘graduating class’ by sending a note? In the competitive job marketplace, everyone should be going to all the lengths possible to brand themselves, create positive impressions and convince prospective employers to hire them.

Why would anyone want to miss this important step altogether, and more importantly, not take advantage of another opportunity to sell themselves as the ideal choice for the job?

The truth is that we all know what happens. We get caught up in the daily routine and tasks, and the next thing we know, it is a week later, and the thought occurs that perhaps we should have sent something to the employer. Thinking it is too late, we decide, well, perhaps it doesn’t matter.

But the point is: It DOES matter.

Many employers point to the fact that thank you notes can make the difference of hiring someone or not, and human resource and hiring managers alike put a certain amount of weight on those thank you notes when considering candidates. And in this crowded job marketplace, every little positive thing we can do to add more viability to our candidacy can make a big impact.

A good way to view a thank you note is to see it as another way to add another point or detail missed in the interview, a chance to connect at a personal level with the interviewer, and also communicates how you see their time as well as an appreciation for the fact that they recognized the value that you offer for that company.

A sure-fire way to ensure that you take advantage of this opportunity is to proactively go out and purchase some blank thank you cards (DollarTree has them for $1), and purchase the appropriate amount of “Forever” stamps so you have them at the ready.

In the interview, write down your interviewer(s) name(s), and as soon as you leave the interview, write up the thank you notes and address them, then stop at the post office on the way home to drop them off.

Getting the notes into the mail ASAP is imperative because you never know when the final decision will be made. Showing a high level of organization in addition to your thoughtfulness also sends a powerful, direct message to the target employer.

Don’t just be a good candidate. Do the right thing and be an EXCEPTIONAL one.