Job Interview Thank You Notes: Navigating the Etiquette

So, I graduated a few weeks ago. It was a fun, frightening, mostly exciting experience and I’m very lucky that I got to walk at commencement with a few of my best friends. Our commencement speaker was Katie Couric and she was awesome.

Two days after graduation, I got a job offer that I was thrilled to accept. I’ve officially moved to New York and starting working last week at my dream job with the agency I interned for last summer. While I was overwhelmingly sad to leave D.C. and my friends, I know that this job is the beginning of the career I’ve been preparing myself for over the past four years.

As I’ve spent a lot of time navigating the “hire me” process over the past few months, interview etiquette has been on my mind (although, it kind of always is…that’s why I write this blog). One thing that I find incredibly important that often goes unnoticed is the thank you note after an interview. Because there’s lots of conflicting information out there, I decided to break down my top tips for sending thank you notes after an internship interview or job interview.

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1. Handwritten vs. Email

A lot of people will tell you handwritten thank you cards are outdated, and a lot of people will tell you email thank you notes are impersonal and a product of our instant-gratification generation. In my opinion, both of these claims are false.

For a phone/skype interview: A thank you email is appropriate. A card in the mail will take too long (especially since it’s likely that a phone or skype interview is taking place with a company in another city). You want to send an email within 24 hours thanking the employer.

For an in-person interview: You have two options.

Option #1: Send a thank you email later that same day, and put a thank you card in the mail within a day or two.

Option #2 (my personal favorite option): Bring thank you cards to the interview. Afterwards, find a Starbucks and sit down and write them. Put them in a mailbox within a few blocks of the office to ensure same-day or next-day delivery!

2. The Physical Thank You Card

Do not buy a thank you card in the Greeting Cards aisle of Duane-Reade unless it is blank! Here are examples of cards that are designated as “Thank You Cards” but should not be given to a potential employer.

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The reason these cards are inappropriate is because they’re too casual and also personal. Your thank you cards should either have a simple picture on the front with no words and a blank inside, or the words “Thank You”/”Thanks” on the front with a blank inside. I partnered with Tiny Prints again to design classic personalized thank you cards for use in professional situations. I love how they turned out!

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3. What to Write

Be genuine and genuinely grateful. Don’t sell yourself short – it IS a big deal that you got this interview, and this thank you card can help seal the deal. Here are my tips:

- Start by thanking them (duh) but that’s not the most important part, so keep it brief

- Include the job title and responsibilities – and remind them that you are excited about this, as well as prepared to do a great job

- Reference something – or several things – you discussed in the interview

- Keep it brief

Here’s a sample:

NAME,

Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview with you today for the Assistant Account Executive position. I really appreciate you taking the time to tell me about XYZ company and how the AAE role fits into the structure of your team. I was particularly excited to hear that the AAE has the opportunity to do pitching and gets to work across a variety of brands, because I’m very passionate about media relations and I believe my skills in this area can add value to your team.

I also loved hearing about your favorite client activation that you’ve worked on. The X event for CLIENT sounds like something I would love to be involved with. Thank you again for considering me for this position. I hope to have the opportunity to work with you in the near future.

All the best,

Stacey

I hope these tips help you in your job/internship interview process! If you have any other thank you card recommendations, leave them in the comments or tweet @staceyalevine!

Graduation is not the end – it’s the beginning!

This Saturday, I’ll be graduating from American University’s School of Communication with a BA in Public Communication and a minor in Marketing. I’m sure it comes as little surprise that I’ll be moving back to New York at the end of May, and while I’m feeling very sad + nostalgic about leaving DC after four years, I’m ready for NYC!

To commemorate the occasion of my college graduation, I partnered with Tiny Prints, an awesome company that offers chic and modern stationary, to design beautiful graduation announcements.

In true DC fashion, I headed over to the gardens at the National Cathedral with my lovely and talented friend Ada Thomas, who photographed my shoot. It was a beautiful spring (summer?) day and the perfect opportunity for me to style a graduation outfit and take some pics for the grad announcements.

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Though I decided to design an announcement that only featured one photo, I wanted to share some of my other favorite shots as well!

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Stacey Levine

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Dress: H&M // Heels: Vince Camuto // Necklace: BaubleBar (similar) // Lipstick: MAC Retro Matte in All Fired Up // Hair styled by PR at Partners // Graduation announcements c/o Tiny Prints

The Intersection of Online + Offline

Recently I read an article about Moleskine‘s attempts to stay current by establishing a digital partnership with Evernote. Evernote is a website/app that lets you save documents, projects, webpages and notes in a way that makes them accessible to you on multiple devices. In Evernote’s new partnership with Moleskine, users can take handwritten notes in their Moleskine “Evernote Business Notebook” and upload them digitally to Evernote using the app on their mobile device.

What’s the difference between this and using a scanner, or even a scanning app? Well, these notes are searchable! You can also write a checkmark on your physical notebook next to a picture of a clock, and it’ll set an alert reminder for you. You can also divide up which sections of your notes are shareable with your team, and which are private.

You know what? Maybe just check it out for yourself.

Speaking of the intersection of online + offline, I decided to come up with a roundup of some awesome/silly/fun products that play off of our love for social media. Fair warning: they’re much less useful than the Evernote Business Notebook (but equally as fun!)

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1. Twitterplate Necklace, BaubleBar – $135

2. QR Code Cufflinks, Etsy- $68

3. “This is My Selfie Shirt” Shirt, Etsy – $20

And my personal favorite…

4. Social Media Flip Flops, Etsy – $18.99

 

“What Should I Include in a Writing Sample?” + Other Career Questions Answered

As some of you know, I intern for a global PR agency, and this week we had a fantastic opportunity: Debbie Wong, a leadership development expert, taught a career development workshop in which she answered our toughest questions about the job search, networking, resumes, cover letters, writing samples, interviews, negotiations, and pretty much everything in between.

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 All of us who attended the session are graduating in May from either undergrad or grad school, so the tips were particularly focused on the means to the end: securing a job. But for those of you applying/interviewing for internships, or simply maintaining a strong network, Debbie’s advice is definitely universal.

It’s no secret that I love this stuff, so I wanted to pass along my key takeaways from Debbie’s workshop.

What is a corporate university and why should I care? 

A corporate university is a training program that a company sets in place to encourage constant learning and development for its employees. Corporate universities show that a company values its employees and also prioritizes continuing education, which is vital to any changing field. Debbie advises to ask about a company’s corporate university in your interview to get a sense of their values as an organization.

I’ve been to some networking events. How can I stay in contact with the people I met? How do I turn those contacts into job prospects?

Immediately after the event, email the people you met or connect with them on LinkedIn to follow up. Remind them of what you discussed. Set up alerts in your calendar every 6 months or so to remind yourself to reach out to your contacts who you haven’t spoken with in a while. When you come across relevant article, send them their way with a brief note – “Saw this and thought of you!” Ask to hear more about their job and the career path they took to get there, otherwise known as an informational interview. Let them know you’re interested in the industry and are actively seeking jobs, but don’t take advantage of their mentorship.

Any tips for creating a great resume?

  • Begin your bullet points with strong active verbs in the past tense like “developed,” “managed,” “designed,” “created,” “initiated,” etc. Speaking of bullet points, use them – not paragraphs.
  • Debbie recommends including a brief summary/objective line at the top of your resume, below your header, such as, “Seeking work in agency PR in the consumer/lifestyle industry, with 4 years of relevant experience”
  • Never just put “intern” as your title! Your title should describe your job function: “Public Relations Intern” or “Graphic Design Intern”
  • The order goes title, company, date
  • Your resume should convey that you are strategic, critical, a self-starter, & can follow orders
  • Your skills section doesn’t only need to include technical skills (like InDesign), it can/should also include strategic skills (like Leadership)

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What should I include in a writing sample?

When a company asks for a writing sample, include a variety of options that showcase the breadth and depth of your skill set. Anything that is visually appealing is a plus! A mix of academic + internship projects, press releases, pitch letters, flyer designs, etc. should serve you well.

How do I write a cover letter?

Don’t make it longer than a page. Write about your work experiences and how they translate to the job you’re applying for. Pick out key job responsibilities from the job listing and speak to them directly. End with a call to action – for example, “I would love the opportunity to discuss my qualifications with you. I can be reached at [xyz]. I look forward to hearing from you.”

What am I looking for in a job package besides salary?

A offer package consists of more than your salary (which is, of course, important). It also can include everything from benefits, to tuition reimbursements, to paid time off (PTO). And of course, it depends on what you value. Perhaps you’ll be willing to accept a salary that’s lower than your goal in exchange for tons of paid vacation days. Debbie noted that your priorities will change in your 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond, and what you negotiate for may change from job to job.

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 How do I negotiate my salary?

I actually found a great article about this via Levo League about salary negotiations that I recommend checking out. Additional advice: try to avoid writing a salary amount in your cover letter/application. If the interviewer offers an amount, don’t just accept it – this lowers your value. People will not always give you more; you need to ask for it!

 

“Career variety helps you in your learning agility” – Debbie Wong

 

Do you have any pressing questions about career development? Leave them in the comments!

Recap: Social Learning Summit 2014 #SLS14

Remember on Friday when I wrote about what you should be doing on Saturday? That thing was the Social Learning Summit, and it was awesome.

What makes #SLS so special is the energy, collaboration, and constant willingness connect on behalf of every person there. It’s a hub for live tweeting and engaging with new ideas and new people in real time. It’s wonderful.

I attended three panels and one keynote speech, though there was so much to see and learn and absorb that I couldn’t possibly have touched it all. The panels I attended were Social Media Metrics (#SLSMetrics), Brand You (#SLSBrand), and No Business Like Social Business (#SLSEnt). One of the keynotes was a fantastic speech by Joe Gizzi (#SLSKey) about the intersection of social and mobile. (Check out his deck here!)

Below I’m including a roundup of some (okay, a lot) of my favorite tweets (& some of my own) from #SLS14 to give you a sense of my experience, key takeaways, and the conference in general. I definitely recommend attending #SLS15 – I’m hoping to come back to AU for it next year!

And of course, if you were at #SLS14 – let’s connect! Tweet @staceyalevine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Your Career Passion

My brother just put down his deposit at Ohio State University, with an intended major in business, and since I’m graduating in May, I’ve been thinking about my own freshman year. So I thought I’d write a post for some of the younger readers – high school, early college – about finding a major/career that you’re really passionate about.

Now, to be fair, I recently read a very thought-provoking article about the phrase “Do what you love, love what you do.” The piece discussed how this advice is only relevant to those with privilege, and diminishes the value and necessity of working-class jobs. So recognizing this important perspective, and understanding it’s significance, I’d like to still discuss the idea of finding happiness and passion in one’s career.

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My freshman year of college, I decided that since no major seemed to fit my interests perfectly, I was going to take advantage of American University’s offering and create my own interdisciplinary major, combining all my favorite areas of study. What would this major be? I looked at my interests and skills. I love to write, I’m a people person, I like social media, and events, and talking. I knew I wanted something creative, but not artistic (hey, gotta be realistic). I didn’t realize at the time that all of these interests were also relevant to branding, PR, marketing, advertising, and sales.

I had a bit of a head start because I did journalism in high school and loved it. As co-editor-in-chief of my high school’s newspaper, I discovered my love for writing, leadership, and beautifully packaged information.

So I pulled out the AU course book (yes, a physical book, with paper and everything) and looked for classes that fit my interests. In attempting to build my supermajor, I realized that what I wanted already existed under the name Public Communication. And, as they say, the rest is history.

My advice to students entering college or early in college trying to choose their major/career is this: Just because it’s your major, doesn’t mean you’re making a decision about the rest of your life. Unless you’re already positive about a very technical career like engineering or medicine, choose a college with options that you can explore. Take advantage of your general education requirements and learn about different fields. You may hate the historical aspects of your anthropology class but leave with the takeaway that you’re interested in human behavior, and boom! You’ve found your way to psychology or sociology. Each positive and negative academic experience can lead to others, and if you take a critical look at what you got out of each one, it can help you find your way.

On top of that, once you find your major and professional interests, classes are not enough. Internships and clubs on campus are what will help you gain a real understanding of the industry. It took me several internships doing in-house PR, agency PR, fashion, food & beverage, consumer goods, and B2B to finally understand what type of career I’m seeking, and what I’m really passionate about.

This was my experience, and I’m sure that others came to decisions about careers and majors in different ways. I’d love to hear how you came to find your career passions, or if you have any questions, feel free to ask!