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Even as many aspects of the hiring process change — AI bots are vetting resumes, job interviews are moving online — one thing remains unchanged: the importance of the thank-you note. 

But just sending a thank-you email to the person you spoke with isn’t enough to stand out in today’s competitive job market, according to Angela Santone, AT&T’s senior executive vice president of human resources.

To really impress your interviewer, consider sending a handwritten thank-you note instead.

By mailing a handwritten note, “you’re taking an extra step that a lot of people don’t even consider, and you’re not taking the easy way out,” says Santone, who has interviewed hundreds of candidates throughout her 20-plus years working in HR. “To me, that conveys even more of a commitment to and interest in the role.”

It also takes the pressure off the interviewer to respond — and that thoughtfulness “goes a really long way,” she adds. 

If the interviewer works remotely, or their company’s mailing address can’t be found with a quick Google search, Santone says it’s “totally fine” to ask for it at the end of your conversation. 

She suggests the following script: I’d love to be able to follow up with you with a note and thank you for your time properly, would you mind sharing your work mailing address with me? 

As for what to include in your thank-you note, keep it short — Santone says 3-5 sentences suffice — but be specific: Mention at least two details that stood out to you in the conversation, whether it is about the role’s responsibilities or your interviewer’s experience, that resonated with you, and explain why. 

“It’s much more powerful to echo back to them what you’ve heard about success in the role, or the company’s culture, and why you can meet those specific expectations, versus a general elevator pitch about why you’re the perfect candidate,” Santone explains.

Above all, sending a thoughtful, handwritten thank-you note is the easiest way to show off your soft skills to an employer. And that could be the deciding factor in whether or not you land an offer.

“There are so many individuals that have the right technical skills but are missing the soft skills you need to really thrive in a role,” says Santone. “Everything goes back to communication: the ability to have a firm handshake, to send a thank-you note in the mail … those are all things that a lot of your peers probably aren’t doing.”

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