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How to Write a Grateful and Professional Thank-you-for-your-time Email

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There are myriad reasons why you may be writing a professional message of thanks. Whatever those may be, it is important to demonstrate courteous professionalism in all your communications at all times. You never know when you may encounter the same individuals at some point in the future. Leaving a good impression behind counts for something, especially in a professional arena. Ghosting is not taken to kindly, and there is no shame in saying, “thank you for your help,” whether you have got that job you wanted or not!

Typical Thank-you Times

You may find that you have good reasons to send out a thank-you-email sometime or another in professional life. You may be appreciative of an opportunity that you have been given, or declining an opportunity, but still being grateful that it was offered. You may be officially recognized for work done. Many a time, people show gratitude for a promotion received, or a job application sent in under review. This digital age is common knowledge that professional and corporate thanks-for-help messages are sent out by email.

Depending on how you respond to an action where gratitude is necessitated, can leave a lasting positive impression, result in a negative reaction, or make you blend in with other professionals or candidates/applicants. Corresponding effectively is a dual-way process of information-exchange. The sender sends a message that the receiver easily comprehends. This is a message that is not conveyed in person, and a pertinent point to note. As a result, professional communication should be enhanced effectively enough so that the tone and the message match.

Setting the Tone by Email

When you talk to someone face-to-face, the elements of gestures and other non-verbal cues come into play. You can pick up on facial expressions and postures. Additionally, the tone of voice counts in the interpretation of behavior of the person with whom you are communicating. You have the opportunity to gauge meaning from an interpersonal communication with the other person.

In expressing appreciation for help, thank-you emails must do the job of considering all the non-verbals. Otherwise, its easy to misconstrue the meaning of your messages. The receiver may just fill in blanks as he or she pleases and assume what the message means, leading to tension in a working relationship. Misunderstandings of this sort aren’t welcome if your career is on the line. Since a huge amount of business communication happens via email (nearly 85%), it is vital to think of the tone of the email you are sending out. The words you choose are of paramount importance, as is the syntax, greeting, closing, etc.

Conveying a Message

Before you start, its imperative to think of the following to plan the appropriateness of your message:

  • The reason you are writing
  • To whom you are writing
  • What you want understood by the recipient

General Tips

When you are writing emails in gratitude for time given to you, or help, thank-you notes should always be proofread. Keep professional emails simple and brief. With emails, anyone can read an email once it goes out. Think of who will view it, or to whom it may be forwarded. Be wise when you write in your “subject” line. Wording must be brief here, but engaging enough to grab attention. Emoticons should never be used in formal emails.

The Essence of Thank-you Emails

Writing “thank-you-for-your-help” emails requires a certain format to adhere to. These are some rough notes of what should come first, next, etc:

  • Start with the greeting – The way you greet an individual in an email depends on your degree of familiarity with the person. As a rule, keeping it professional is the key. Unless you know the work culture of the organization determines otherwise, be formal.
  • The gratitude part – This is, surprisingly, the easiest part. You have to simply say, “Thank you for _____________ (put your reason here)”. Give a specific enough reason to ignite the person’s memory (they should remember what the “thanks for help” is for).
  • The use of help – After the reason, don’t forget to mention something great about what you gained from the “help” given. Perhaps, you learned something from it. Say how it was valuable to you.
  • Future reinforcement – If you have had human contact with the individual once, you need to bolster that for any future contact you may experience. Basically, they should feel that they are an important part of your career or search for one.
  • Ending – You can end in a friendly tone, reiterating your gratitude, but don’t say “thanks” more than twice in the message.
  • Tail end – You can put something formal here, but not too uptight (Best, Best regards, Sincerely).

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A Sample Email

Here’s a sample email that a student may write to the head of an organization that he/she met at a college campus career fair:

Subject: Thank You for Your Help and Follow up from University Career Fair

Dear First and Last Name (or Dr. with Last Name),

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me at the University of North Carolina Career Fair the day before yesterday. After we spoke about the advertising internships at ABC Corporation, I am seriously interested in going ahead with opportunities in your organization, in the future. Specifically, I enjoyed learning how ABC Corporation collaborates with other agencies in their projects. I hope that I can query you on some aspects of the internship role further.

I sincerely appreciated your time and I hope to be in touch with you soon.

Robert Lunden

Some Handy Dos and Don’ts

For a “thank-you for your help” note to have the right impact, there  are some aspects of your message details that you should pay attention to and some you should just plain avoid:

  • For Subject Lines – You should write in the subject line first. Stay with keeping it short and simple. Write words that are relevant at the start. In case someone referred you, write their name. Don’t use any filler words – these are irrelevant. Don’t use all capitals.
  • For Greetings – If you are starting off in a formal way, you may begin with Dear and the First and Last Name, or Dear and Dr./Professor. You can then write “Good Morning” or any other time that you’re writing the message. You can also begin with Hello, Name. Don’t assume any nicknames, and avoid misspelling names. If you don’t write a greeting and start with the person’s name directly, you will be perceived as crass. Much as you may think it’s okay to write “To Whom It May Concern”, it comes across as impersonal and rather cold. If you use the titles Mr./Mrs./Sir, etc, you are taking gender identity/marital status for granted. Only use this if it’s appropriate to do so.
  • To Close your Email – It’s okay to use All the Best, Best, Best Regards, Best Wishes, and Kind Regards. You can also close with Respectfully, Sincerely, Thank you for your help and consideration, Thank you, Warm Regards, With gratitude, etc. The closing cannot be abrupt, and on no account be avoided completely – this would be discourteous.

Other Situations

Whatever the situation may be, and whomever you are sending out your thank-you email to, the gist of what you want to say will have a thread of commonality. For instance, you may want to thank a doctor for fitting you in for an urgent appointment at the last moment. In such a circumstance, you would probably mention how they had helped to make you feel better, health-wise. You may get a second interview call from a recruiter. Here too, you would likely choose similar words to thank them for their consideration in calling you back.

Situations with Negative Outcomes

In case you face a negative outcome, such as news that you didn’t get selected for a college seat, or a corporate appointment, don’t fret. You need to frame a polite reply. As was mentioned earlier on in this article, you never know when you may meet a person in the future. Remember, that recruiters and college officials go through tens of hundreds of applications, as doctors see patients. Helping professionals deal with a bulk of people and information.

If someone has taken time out and effort to review your data, that means they’ve spent time helping you. You can reply to such messages politely, by starting off with “Thank you for letting me know”. There’s no harm in making inquiries of your own, as long as they don’t come across as imposing or accusatory. A good way to ask is, “Is there anything about my application/interview that can be worked on?” If you do have the chance of learning from something, that’s good. Be brief, otherwise. If nothing else, a recruiter will remember your manners when a new position opens up.

A Learning Experience

Whether you have a negative or positive experience, you have to keep an optimistic frame of mind. Getting paralyzed with anxiety won’t help. A great “thank-you for your help” note can form an impression that lasts a long time, and will likely help you at some juncture in your professional life or personal life.

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