Julie Brush, Solutus founding partner

Sending a thank you note is a must after every meaningful professional encounter. Blow it off and your candidacy could be DOA or your reputation tainted. A poorly written thank you could produce the same results. So what may seem like a quick and easy afterthought, the content of the thank you—what you say or don’t say—can play a much bigger role than you think. I have counseled scores of legal professionals on the art and skill of saying thank you—and over the years, have learned a great deal about what resonates … and repels employers. So before you put pen to paper or fingers to keys, I recommend that you give the content of your thank you some careful consideration and consider my advice below.

There is no secret sauce to writing the perfect thank you—as there are many ways to write an effective note of appreciation. But there are a few key guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Keep it short
  • The tone should be positive, friendly, professional and not overly formal or familiar
  • Express appreciation for the person’s time in meeting/speaking with you
  • One or two sentences about what you enjoyed about your conversation
  • Reiterate interest (if interviewing for a job)
  • No typos!
  • Fonts:  Should not be too big or too small, black color preferably, conservative/common font style
  • Refrain from emojis, smiley faces, winks and too many exclamation points (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
  • No ALL CAPS
  • Send within 24-48 hours of your interaction
  • Email is the standard form today, but if you’d like to opt for handwritten, go for it

Below are a few thank you note examples:

“Dear Robert, thank you for taking time out of your busy day to meet with me about the general counsel opportunity with Company X. It was great to learn about your company’s plans for growth and how a legal partner would help advance the company’s goals. I believe my industry experience as well as my broad background as a general counsel would add great value to this new role. I would welcome the opportunity to meet your colleagues and look forward to hearing from you soon. Best Regards, Joan”

“Elena, it was such a pleasure meeting you today. I appreciated getting to know you and learning more about your background as a corporate lawyer. I’m just starting my search for summer internships and your advice will be invaluable as I interview with law firms. Many thanks again. I look forward to staying in touch. Best, Chris”

“Hi Mary, thanks for your time to speak with me about the real estate associate position with your firm. The firm’s developer practice is the best I’ve seen and I feel is well aligned with my background working with similar clients. I appreciate that you would like an associate who can hit the ground running and my six years of real estate experience would enable me to easily do so. I am very interested in the opportunity to work with you and your group.”

“Tim, it was great catching up today over lunch. Thank you for taking the time to listen to my new business idea. I value your opinion and I found your suggestions to be very helpful. I’ll keep you posted on my progress! Thanks again, Tony”

“Julie, thank you for meeting with me today about my job search. I appreciated your insights about the market and the best strategy for maximizing my options. I look forward to implementing your suggestions and will keep you posted on my progress. In the interim, please keep me in mind as interesting opportunities arise. All the best, Ava”

A thank you note does not have to reach Shakespearean heights, but it does have to convey your message succinctly and effectively. While there are no hard and fast rules, writing a good thank you takes a little time, effort and understanding of the basic guidelines. So practice your prose and make your next thank you note an inspiration for an encore performance.

Julie Brush is the founder and author of The Lawyer Whisperer (www.thelawyerwhisperer.com), a career advice column for legal professionals, also found on LinkedIn. She is co-founder of Solutus Legal Search, a legal search/consulting boutique firm, serving as a strategic adviser to lawyers, law firms and corporations.