How Pushy Should My Thank-You Note Be?

11 Oct

A reader writes:

I interviewed for a job with a company I used to work for. I know many people still at the company & am friends with the VP who interviewed me. Yesterday she emailed saying I did not have the typical experience that they’re looking for and thus the higher-ups in corporate would not accept my candidacy.

 Question: Should I write her a letter/email explaining why I am better than some average candidate just because their resume has the traditional boxes checked off? Or does that seem desperate somehow?

 

In typical HR fashion, I’m going to say “it depends.”

On one hand, it’s natural and expected to follow up an interview with a concise pitch for why you’re interested in, and perfect for, the job. That said, you’ve already received feedback that you won’t be seriously considered for the role. Whether you should continue to make a play for the job depends largely on your relationship with the VP who interviewed you. If you think she’s a fan of yours and might go to bat for you given the right information and tools then you should definitely give it a shot. Maybe she just needs to see the indisputable facts and arguments for why you’re the perfect fit for the job – all spelled out before her. If you think this is the case, do it. Write that note and make your case.

If, on the other hand, the VP isn’t likely to make the case for you with the rest of the management team, it’s a different story. If she either isn’t necessarily a huge fan and won’t stick her neck out for you, or if she just doesn’t have the sway or decision making power to influence the original assessment of your candidacy, then it’s probably a waste of time to try to re-sell yourself after being initially rejected for the role. If this is the case, a well-crafted thank you note would be a better option. One that lets her know how you appreciate being considered initially even if you are an “out of the box” candidate, and expressing an interest in exploring other appropriate jobs with the company. 

If she’s a fan of yours, it can’t hurt to make one more effort to see if she’ll stick up for you with the bigwigs. If you don’t think she can or will affect any kind of change of opinion when it comes to you, it can come off as a bit out of line, if not desperate.  So I can’t tell you what to do with this one, but if your relationship with this VP is one that you want to continue to nurture then let that be your guide on what to do. Put yourself in her shoes and figure out what you’d want if your situations were reversed.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Would you try to re-sell yourself or would you write it off as a done deal? Please leave comments below.

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4 Responses to “How Pushy Should My Thank-You Note Be?”

  1. Billy October 11, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    I recall when friendship meant something in life. It was very common to work with a friend than with a stranger. These days, friendship doesn’t mean a thing. You are overlooked even if the hiring manager is your best friend. Your friend will go to bat for you to work for the company. Friendship and networking is over rated. A times even if you are the best qualified candidate, you are rejected due to the friendship with a manager or someone in the company. I have seen it many times.

    • HR Dave October 11, 2012 at 9:16 am #

      Thanks for the comment. There are many different situations when friendship can either help or hurt your candidacy for the job. A lot of it depends on how close the friend is and how much decision making authority that friend has. I’ve seen people get hired at companies because their friends went to bat for them, and I’ve also seen people not get hired because the powers that be thought the friendship might be problematic. There are no hard and fast rules. Generally, if the hiring manager is your best friend I’d recommend that they not hire you. Do you really want to muddy your friendship by throwing in the boss-employee relationship?

  2. Greg H October 11, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    I agree generally that it does depend on the situation, but unless you have a specific reason to think that restating your credentials will help you, I would lean against doing it. Usually, emails like that stem from the belief that the employer didn’t really understand your qualifications, but I’ve found the opposite is usually true: candidates don’t know enough about the role and what the employer is looking for, and they let the fact that they “really want the job” cloud the realization that they may not be a good fit. There’s also some psychology at play: Most people, having made a decision, don’t respond well to having it questioned.

    We don’t know enough details about this person’s situation to judge what’s going on here, but I do find it interesting that she says she used to work at the company. That suggests it’s unlikely that they simply don’t understand her qualifications. In fact, it’s more likely that they know her all too well, and still aren’t interested in working with her (that’s not to say they’re right, just that that may be their thinking process). So my advice to this job seeker is to skip the formal channels and ask some of your close friends still at the company to do a little digging for you. At the same time, recognize that it’s highly unlikely you’ll get them to change their minds.

    • Looking October 27, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

      Dear Greg H, I think you are right on several accounts. I am actually the person who posted this original question… r.e. Thank you notes. It is possible there is more going on then I am made aware of, and thus I have other friends in the company “looking into” the details of the hiring decisions. Seems the hire-ups are not really sure what/who they are looking for. So, I figure sending a follow up, note in a very respectful and pleasant tone, offering more information on the assets I hold – that were not specifically mentioned in the interview, could help them see more of what I can offer. Thus realizing more of my full potential. Since the situation is “friendly,” I believe it can’t hurt my chances, only increase them. If it still doesn’t happen, nothing lost. Thank you HR Dave.

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