February 5, 2018 ・ Written by T.J. Duane

The most basic career advice - say “Thank you”

The most basic career advice - say “Thank you”

The professional world can feel harsh these days. Ambiguous emails and curt Slack messages abound (to say nothing of the opaque, impersonal online job application process).

The good news? You can play a part in warming up this chilly landscape. And you can do it with a truly kindergarten-level skill - saying “thank you.” This might seem obvious, but it’s a habit we’ve all let slide.

I bet you can think of some people you should have thanked. Go ahead. Somebody did something nice for you, you got busy, and the thank you went by the wayside. Maybe you dashed off “Thanks!” in a text message or a Facebook chat. We can do better. Here’s how.

Thank you emails

We’ve all tacked on a quick “Thanks for all your help!” at the end of an email about something else. While this is basic courtesy, it won’t have the same impact as a dedicated thank you email.

These don’t have to be complicated. But spending a tiny bit of time and thought will let the recipient know that you care, and that they matter. The key is to emphasize why their contribution meant so much to you. Here’s an example:

I just wanted to let you know how grateful I am for your advice - I think I’m going to stick with my current job rather than head to grad school. You’ve saved me a ton of time and internet searching. Thank you!

Truly, the subject “Thank you” and a couple of heartfelt lines is all it takes.

The Power of the Written Thank You

When you really need to make an impact – at a key job interview, for example – nothing beats a written thank you note. If this sounds old school, that’s because it is.

Your handwriting doesn’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to say a lot. But taking the time to write down your gratitude on a nice card, find a stamp, and mail the note will blow the recipient away. A handwritten thank you won’t be forgotten in this 99%-digital landscape. (If you doubt it, when was the last time you got one? I’ll wait while you do the math.)

This is the A+, extra credit option that’ll really blow someone away.

Remember, it’s never too late to be grateful.

If you can think of a moment when you’ve failed to thank someone, go ahead and do it now. There’s no expiration date on gratitude. If you’re still thinking about a person’s contribution to your life months or years later, that’s an extra warm and fuzzy detail worth noting.

I recently received a small gift from someone who I had given career advice to more than a year ago. She included a simple note saying that she was thankful for the contribution I had made to her professional development. It absolutely made my day and helped re-open our connection in a way that was meaningful and sincere.

Always remember, there’s no shortage of gratitude – it’s one of those rare resources that can multiply forever. The more you give, the more you have.