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Is it Really So Hard to Say Thank You?


Here in Israel we’ve said a couple of big thanks over the past week, both present day and biblical. The terrible recent fire in the northern part of the country overwhelmed the local fire departments and many countries from near and far came and provided tremendous assistance. The fire caused a lot of damages (estimated at one-third of the forest areas of the Carmel region), but I understand that without this international help the damage might well have been double this.

After the fire was contained, our Prime Minister Bibi publicly and graciously thanked the governments that were available in our time of need as well as the firefighters themselves that traveled here and risked their lives to put out the flames.

A totally different thank you technique was displayed by the Israeli foreign ministry, whose representative spent the majority of the time reminding listeners how good Israel has been in the past to help others in crisis (which is certainly true), and then sequenced into a thanks that other countries came to our aid as well; in my opinion a less self-serving message would have been more appropriate and effective.

In the synagogue last Shabbat, Jacob thanked/blessed Pharaoh for allowing the Jews to live in Egypt during the famine. I certainly hope that the thanks that the modern day Israel gave to Egypt this week for assisting to put out the fires will lead to a better relationship than our forefathers encountered in Ancient Egypt those many years ago!

Now, I hope my transition to employment will be less painful here than listening to a foreign ministry expression of gratitude…

In the US, it is quite common that after an interview, a job candidate will send a thank you note to the person that conducted the interview. Certainly this is not an altruistic act entirely – on the one hand it can make sense to show appreciation for the person that invested time and efforts in interviewing you, but usually the motivation is more “me-based” – raising your visibility in the recruitment process and distinguishing yourself from other candidates. What I have noticed in Israel is that the simple thank you note is almost totally ignored by job seekers.

I am not quite sure why this is true, and I certainly wouldn’t associate this with a cultural trait of the local population. Anyway, the more interesting point is not the why, but whether it is useful for a job candidate in Israel to send such a note. In Israel, they may have an even more positive impact than in the US, as the local interviewer may well be getting such a note from you and no one else

I certainly can’t see the harm in it and there is definitely a potential up-side, and if nothing else, it will force you to make an effort to get the interviewer’s name and contact details (something which never ceases to amaze me many people leave an interview without).

So, what should be in this thank you note, generally delivered by email? The combination of expressing gratitude for the interviewer’s time and the opportunity to better discuss the position and your suitability together with a reminder of what a good fit you are and strong interest you have is ideal. Of course, thinking about the best language to compose such a message is also relevant, depending upon who the interviewer was. It shouldn’t be long, and certainly not a recap of your CV or the interview in its entirety, just a few short sentences that get your point across.

Wishing you great success in your job seeking efforts and heartfelt thanks for taking the time to read this article.

Contributed by Ron Machol - Dec 2010

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