Career Development

Why I Say “No, Thank You” To a “Thank You Card”

One of the questions that keeps popping up lately is about Thank You Cards versus Thank You Notes (or emails). I have never sent a Thank You Card since email communication has taken the lead over snail mail. I don’t believe in cards anymore. Don’t get me wrong,  I encourage everybody to make sure and send a sincere, personalized thank you note after each interview. People like to be acknowledged, people like to feel good and valued. Your Thank You Note will do just that: it will bring a smile on a face or a minute of “feel good about myself” attitude and you will be remembered. I just don’t believe in traditional cards. And here is why:

There was a time when I would race my husband to collect the mail. The excitement of opening that small box and being the first one to touch the letter from my parents or the birthday cards from pretty much around the world was something I was looking forward to.  There was magic and excitement and surprise and yes, the occasional heartache when the taxman would send his bills in. But I enjoyed every bit of it. In time, the excitement has faded away. Now I get happy and excited every time I open the mailbox and it is empty! I gave up the daily trip to pick up my mail a while ago. I don’t get letters from my parents anymore. My dad has a laptop and an email account. We talk almost daily via Skype or iChat. I am exchanging recipes and having girls-talks with my mom any time I need to and they are not sleeping (considering we live on different continents). I laugh and share jokes and play the big sister in real time now, for my brother. So, I don’t check my mailbox anymore …

I am a big fan of Mr Suzuki’s foundation and of causes that try to build Earth-friendly communities. As a family, we made changes to our lifestyle and although we still have a long way till we reach Sarah’s Zero Waste Home, you’d be surprised how a small change can make a big difference. Every time I received a letter, I had to carefully go through a big pile of junk mail and shinny coupons or realtor’s introductory cards with ravioli recipes on the back and so on… The point is that if you take out the letters from family and friends and if, like me, you have opted for electronic communication with banks, taxman and government, you are left with a pile of junk in your mailbox. The fun has been replaced by another time consuming, boring task: to spend 5 minutes clearing your mailbox and filling up that recycling box. Therefore, I don’t check my mailbox too often…

We all have experienced it: our workload is growing every day. We are assigned new tasks, on top of the old ones. Timelines are volatile and it  seems that they get shorter and shorter by the minute. Despite best intentions of companies’ mission to become green, we are buried in an ocean of paper. The workspace is getting smaller and smaller, to the point where  we are guaranteed to be provided only with a desk, a chair , a smart phone and a laptop. Physical space is becoming a rare commodity and we are slowly but surely getting rid of even pens – what is their use when we have the smart phone or the tablet to record, take notes and write documents? We all are on a quest to simplify our lives by becoming masters of the filing system! I have a file I bury all my documents and things that have no relevance, can’t file anywhere but I want to keep. I call it “The Dungeon” because once a document makes its way into this file, although with good intentions, it will come out only to be shredded or recycled. I feel bad to admit it but all the odd cards have ended in that file. The only people I have ever seen keeping them are the Career Counselors that teach seminars about Thank You Cards and need them as examples.

At this point you will ask, what’s the difference between emails and cards then? An email can be easily trashed as well. Yes, and no. As a recruiter, I used to create  files for candidates and store all the documentation provided by them in these files. Once I received a Thank You Note , that email would be stored in the same location with the resume and all other documents. Every time when I opened that file, I would have a quick look at that Thank you note which made me feel good and valued and put me in a better mood.

I would also argue that an email will reach the other person instantly, without any additional costs or paper waste while there are so many things that can go wrong with a card sent via snail mail, not to mention that it might get there too late for anybody to associate your person with the name on the card.



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