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Etiquette

Professional behavior is crucial.Imagine: You are an interviewer. You have seen a few well-qualified candidates already. Their resumes were well-tailored and they seemed like good people. However, one candidate seems to have a certain quality that none of the others had. Actually, the candidate reminded you of your co-workers with an air of professionalism.

Being professional will aid you no matter what other tools you have available or use. Lack of professionalism and appropriate etiquette will likely cause a number of opportunities to pass you by.


Appropriate Dress When Meeting Potential Employers

A student's professional image is an important part of the job search campaign, especially during the interview process. A polished "dress for success" appearance creates a positive first impression and is essential so that the employer can focus on the students' qualifications free from distraction.

Research literature on interviewing supports this: approximately 80% of the hiring decisions are determined within the first few moments.

It is important for students to invest in modest looking attire with industry appropriate colors and designs that convey confidence and professionalism. For interviews, conservative attire rather than a fashion statement is best. Students are encouraged to ask a professional in the field or a Center staff member what is most appropriate.

Here are a few tips that can help you look your best:

General

  • If an employer is present (ex. employer information session or an industry career day) then you will want to dress in business professional. Call the receptionist or administrative assistant at the prospective employer's office for tips on what constitutes appropriate employee attire. Young Adults in Professional Dress
  • It is best to wear little or no cologne/perfume.
  • Do NOT bring backpacks, gum, cell phone, iPod, coffee or soda into the interview.
  • Place your watch in your pocket once you make it to the front door so that you're not tempted to look at it during the interview.
  • If you're nervous, place a tissue or thin handkerchief in your pocket (make sure it does not cause your pocket to bulge). Wipe your hand immediately (though inconspicuously) before shaking hands with the employer so you don't have sweaty palms.
  • Avoid putting keys in your pocket. This ensures they will not rattle when you walk or cause your pocket to bulge.

Men

  • Make sure to wear a suit and tie to any company that is part of a more formal industry, such as banking or law. Choose a basic black, dark gray or dark navy suit, a matching tie and black leather lace-up shoes. Secure any items that you may be wary to invest in well in advance of your interview to ensure that it's clean and fits well.
  • Match your belt to the color of your shoes. Choose black if your outfit consists of dark grays, navies, browns or black. Opt for dark brown if you'll be wearing tans, muted pastels or medium toned colors.
  • Polish or clean your shoes the night before your interview. Scuff marks on your shoes reveal a lack of forethought and attention to detail.
  • Keep interview accessories professional. Take a briefcase or nice leather- or vinyl-bound portfolio to carry resume, references or other pertinent documents. Leave tattered manila folders or college logo folders at home.
  • Sometimes, always, never rule: On a three-button suit: sometimes button the top button, always button the middle button, and never button the bottom one.
  • Wear dark over-the-calf dress socks that match your shoes. Dress socks should ride above the calf so that no part of the leg shows when you sit down or cross your ankle over your knee (which you should not do anyway).
  • No jewelry other than a watch, wedding band, or maybe a class ring.
  • It is best to be clean shaven and wear hair short. Beards and mustaches are acceptable only within a few, more casual industries.

Women

  • Call the prospective employer's office for tips on what constitutes appropriate employee attire.
  • Choose between closed-toe flats, pumps or loafers. If you are wearing a skirt, nylons are strongly suggested.
  • Avoid miniskirts, tight sweaters, low necklines and sandals with straps.
  • A suit skirt should be long enough so you can sit down comfortably.
  • Check your outfit for holes, tears, stains, scuffs or wrinkles.
  • Keep makeup, hair spray, perfume and jewelry to a minimum. One nose ring is one too many and may cost you the job of your dreams.
  • Hair should be clean and tidy and conservatively worn.
  • Carry a nice briefcase or portfolio. Leave the oversized, disorganized handbag at home.
  • Fingernails should be a conservative length. If you wear nail polish, it should either be clear or a pale, neutral color.

 

Thank You Letters

Why Send a Thank You Letter?

A thank you letter is an essential component of the interview process, whether for the job search, graduate school, or for an informational interview. This simple gesture can speak volumes about your interest and appreciation for the opportunity to interview, and although nearly all job seekers acknowledge the value of sending a personalized thank you note, the majority of people never send one.  As a job candidate, you should view the thank you letter as yet another opportunity to show an interviewer what a great fit you would be with their organization or program.

General Tips

  • Ask for your interviewers' business cards, or write down the interviewers' titles and the proper spelling of their names before leaving the interview site.
  • Be sure to write and send the letter within two days of the meeting.  
  • Remember to be genuine when writing a thank you note.
  • If multiple people interviewed you, send a thank you letter to each and personalize each one by talking about something specific you discussed with them.  Be sure to mention some key points that you think the employer should remember about you.
  • Conclude the thank you letter by mentioning again how interested you are in the position/program and why.
  • Carefully proofread each letter, and have one other person to review it.
  • Remember to keep your thank you letter to ONE page.

Formats to Use

Many wonder what type of thank you letter should be sent: typed, handwritten, or emailed.  Below is some guidance to help you with your decision:

Should it be...Typed or Handwritten?

Traditionally, the thank you note takes the form of a handwritten letter.  If your handwriting is legible, then this gesture can add a touch of personalization to your correspondence.  However, if your handwriting is poor, a typed letter is perfectly acceptable.  In addition, you may want to base your decision on how formally your interview is conducted. If your first impression feels strictly formal, then a typed letter may be more appropriate; if there is a more informal atmosphere, a hand-written letter may work better.  


What about...Paper and Envelopes?

Thank you note cards with matching envelopes are appropriate for use, as long as they are simple, but stay away from cutesy graphics or greetings. High-quality stationery paper with a matching envelope is suitable as well.  Both can be found at most stationery stores or at the Vanderbilt Bookstore.  It is best when sending a thank you note to use neutral paper, such as white or cream, and to stay way from colored paper.

 

Should it be..Email?

While a thank you email is less formal than a physical letter, an electronic thank you note may also be appropriate, depending on the situation. If you are interviewing with a high-tech company or in a fast-paced industry, the interviewer may expect your response electronically. Also, if you if all previous correspondence was via e-mail, or if the interview was sufficiently informal, then emailing the thank you letter is fine. 

For students participating in on-campus recruiting through the Center for Student Professional Development, it is important to email a thank you note to the interviewer within 24 hours of the interview.  Many applicant decisions or second-round interviews will be made quickly; emailing a thank you note will reaffirm your interest in the position. Contact information will be available at the student sign-in desk following your interview. In this situation, you may also follow up with a handwritten letter if you feel one would be appropriate.

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Sample Thank You Letters

 There are many samples presented below.  These include:

Sample Thank You Letter Layout 
Explains the general layout for thank you letters and specific points for each type of letter. These use a business letter format that you will likely want to use if you are sending a hard copy.  If you are sending emails, then some of this formatting will not apply, but do remember to include your email signature.  For example:
     
John Q. Public

Bachelor of Arts Candidate May 2015
Vanderbilt University
Cell: (555) 265-8588
john.q.public@vanderbilt.edu

Specific Samples

 

Sample Thank You Letter Layout

 

Your Address

City, State Zip

Date

 

 

Contact’s Name

Title

Organization

Address

City, State Zip

 

 

Dear (Contact Name):

 

Paragraph 1:

In your introduction, express your appreciation for the time the person spent with you.  Mention the time and place where you spoke with the individual in all thank you letters except the reference thank you letter. 

For each situation, there will be many differences in how you approach this paragraph:

  • Informational Interviews – Reiterate your appreciation for the interviewee’s insight or knowledge of the discussed situation (i.e. company or field).
  • References – You may have a professional relationship with this individual and want to thank him/her for their continued support in your future success.
  • Career Fair – Reiterate your interest in the job/program and your enthusiasm to join the organization.
  • Networking – Thank the individual for inviting you to join their professional network or referring you to a network that is of interest to you.
  • Interview – Reiterate your interest in the job/program and your enthusiasm to join the organization.

 

Paragraph 2:

In your message, reiterate certain points discussed with the contact person, as appropriate to the discussion.  Mention any important items you may have omitted.  Also, add any remaining questions you may have, and expand upon aspects of things mentioned during the discussion.

  • Informational Interviews – This is where you mention that you have scheduled an appointment with a contact the interviewee provided you, where you can ask for clarification on a topic that was discussed, or where you summarize a couple of key points that were mentioned that really stuck with you.
  • References – Help your reference draw connections by expressing your desire for the position/program for which you have applied, and highlight some of your strengths and how they fit the opportunity.
  • Career Fair – State your desire to work for the organization, and highlight a couple of key strengths that are relevant to the company or the position.
  • Networking – Highlight continued interest in the area around which the network revolves, and highlight your willingness to join as an active network member (what will you contribute and whether others can contact you).
  • Interview - State your desire to work for the organization, and highlight a couple of key strengths that are relevant to the company or the position.

 

Paragraph 3:

In your conclusion, indicate what you will do next, based on the conversation.  Be sure to include a phone number where you can be reached.

  • Informational Interviews – If you intend on staying in contact with the individual, mention that here and express the purpose of staying in touch.  The interviewee may have offered additional assistance such as a resume critique.  Mention your appreciation of this offer and forward your resume.
  • References – You want to stay in contact with references, so make sure to tell them that in paragraph three.  Also mention that you will send updates on your progress during the application process.
  • Career Fair – You only had a brief encounter or mini-interview with the contact, so conclude your thank you letter with a request for an interview, or reiterate your interest in the position and/or company. 
  • Networking – Thank the individual again for his/her assistance, and let him/her know you will stay in touch by providing updates on your career progress.
  • Interview -- Re-emphasize a skill or strength, express your interest in the position, and provide contact information should the interviewer have any follow-up questions.

 

Sincerely,

 

(Your handwritten signature)

 

Your name typed

 

 

 

NOTE: When writing a thank you letter, it should be only ONE PAGE.

 

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Sample Informational Interview Thank You Letter

Your Address

City, State Zip

Date

 

 

Contact’s Name

Title

Organization

Address

City, State Zip

 

 

Dear (Contact Name):

 

Thank you very much for taking the time to meet with me Thursday to discuss professional possibilities in the health care industry.  I was impressed by your knowledge of today's complicated issues and appreciated your insight regarding the ways I can apply my Communications and Economics majors to contribute to hospital administration.

You gave me the name of Harriet Health at ABC HMO to contact, and we have an appointment early next month when she returns from a business trip.

I will be in contact from time to time to keep you posted on my career research.  I will send a copy of my resume to your office as soon as it is ready and thank you in advance for your generous offer of a resume critique.  Thank you for your help and valuable information.  

                                                                                                   Sincerely yours,

                                                                                                   (Your signature)

                                                                                                   Your name typed

 

 

Letter adapted from:  Information Interviewing, Martha Stoodley, 1990.

 

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Sample Reference Thank You Letter

 

Your Address

City, State Zip

Date

 

 

Contact’s Name

Title

Organization

Address

City, State Zip

 

 

Dear (Contact Name):

Thank you very much for your willingness to act as a reference for me in my job search. I place a great deal of trust in your judgment and ability to evaluate critical areas of my abilities and am honored that you will support me in this process.

I will be in contact from time to time to keep you posted on my career research. I will also send a copy of my updated resume to your office as soon as it is ready. I would appreciate any feedback you might provide. I thank you again for your assistance with this important step to my success.

                                                                                                   Sincerely yours,

                                                                                                   (Your signature)

                                                                                                   Your name typed

 

 

Letter adapted from:  Information Interviewing, Martha Stoodley, 1990.

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Sample Career Fair Thank You Letter

Your Address

City, State Zip

Date

 

 

Contact’s Name

Title

Organization

Address

City, State Zip

 

 

Dear (Contact Name):

Thank you for talking with me today at the Vanderbilt Career Fair. I appreciate your time and attention in the middle of such a busy event. I enjoyed speaking with you and learning more about Fosters Group. You were very helpful in explaining Fosters’ Management Trainee Program. 

My enthusiasm for the program and interest in working for Fosters Group were greatly strengthened as a result of our conversation. My degree in Human and Organizational Development from Vanderbilt and the leadership positions I have held on campus are two qualities you said were important to success at Fosters. I am confident that both my education and work experience provide a good fit with your requirements for the Management Trainee Program.

I look forward to an opportunity to visit Fosters Group and speak to you further about the Management Trainee Program. Please feel free to contact me at 615-555-1234 or by email at joanne.public@vanderbilt.edu if you would like me to provide you with any additional information.

Thank you again for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

(Your Signature)

Joanne Public

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Sample On-Campus Interview Thank You Letter

 

Your Address

City, State Zip

Date

 

 

Contact’s Name

Title

Organization

Address

City, State Zip

 

 

Dear (Contact Name):

 

I enjoyed interviewing with you during your recruiting visit to Vanderbilt University on October 25.  The management trainee program you outlined sounds both challenging and rewarding, and I look forward to your decision concerning an on-site visit.

As mentioned during the interview, I will be graduating in December with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics. Through my education and experience, I’ve gained many skills, as well as an understanding of retailing concepts and dealing with the general public. I have worked seven years in the retail industry in various positions from sales clerk to assistant department manager. I think my education and work experience would complement Fashion’s management trainee program.

I have enclosed a copy of my college transcript and a list of references, as you requested. 
Thank you again for the opportunity to interview with Fashion Department Store.  The interview served to reinforce my strong interest in becoming a part of your management team.  I can be reached at (615) 555-1111 or by email at student@vanderbilt.edu, should you need additional information.

Sincerely,

(Your Signature)

Joanne Public


Enclosure

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Sample On-Site Visit and Interview Thank You Letter

 

Your Address

City, State Zip

Date

 

 

Contact’s Name

Title

Organization

Address

City, State Zip

 

 

Dear (Contact Name):


Thank you for the opportunity to visit with you and see your facilities last Wednesday.  Both the interview and the tour made for an exciting and complete day.

I was particularly impressed with your warehousing procedures. Mr. Allen was so thorough in explaining your process to me, and I will be corresponding directly with him to express my appreciation.

Incidentally, the process you use is quite similar to one I have been researching through an independent study this term. Perhaps I can share my final report with you and Mr. Allen.
The expense report you requested is enclosed.


Again, thank you for your hospitality during my visit and for all your efforts to arrange my visit.  Having seen your operation, I am all the more enthused about the career opportunity that Super Computers and Electronics offers.  I look forward to your decision.


Sincerely,
Annie Smith
Enclosure

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Sample Networking Thank You Letter

 

Your Address

City, State Zip

Date

 

 

Contact’s Name

Title

Organization

Address

City, State Zip

 

 

Dear (Contact Name):


Thank you again for agreeing to be a member of my personal network. This is an important time in my life as I take the plunge to begin my career, and I truly value the advice of professionals like you who know the consulting field so well.

I especially appreciate your offer to introduce me to other professionals and consults in your network, which I know will be extremely helpful to me in establishing myself.

Lisa, I can't thank you enough for your willingness to help me launch this phase of my career.  I will be sure to keep you informed of my progress.  And please do not hesitate to contact me if you think of any additional suggestions for expanding my network and establishing myself as a consultant.
Sincerely,

Annie Smith

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