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References are very important in the job search process

As anyone knows who has applied for internships and permanent jobs, potential employers will ask you for job references most times before they offer you a position. Potential employers spend a lot of money, time, and resources before they bring someone on to their teams so they want to make sure they know as much about a potential applicant as possible before offering the coveted position.

What types of references are there? There are several different types of references:

  1. Former Employers
  2. Colleagues
  3. Teachers/Professors
  4. Advisors/Career Directors
  5. Supervisors

Too many job applicants underestimate the importance of great references. When asking someone for a reference, approach them very politely and professionally either by email, mail, or phone and ask “are you in a position to give me a positive reference”? If they say “yes”, then great. If not, know that they are doing you a favor by not agreeing to be a reference and then not saying something positive about you.

I’m asked frequently to give people references and so are many other professionals. To make it easy on the person you are asking the reference, ask them if it would help if you would provide some “talking points”, a copy of your resume, and the link to your LinkedIn profile.

I always ask people to tell me a lot about themselves including where they grew up, what their passions are, what they are good at, and anything else that would be great for a potential employer to know. I can’t be a great reference if I don’t know you. So no, I won’t be a reference for someone I don’t know. That wouldn’t make any sense. So make sure to ask people who really know you well to serve as a reference. Know that a positive reference can and often does get you the job. So make sure to make as positive an impression on people you deal with at school, church, job, and wherever else you spend your time.

Make sure to keep your references apprised of where you are in the job search process and please remember that you must always ask someone to be a reference before you list them as one. If you land the job, make sure to let the reference know that as well. Too many people fail to thank their references. So, never fail to say “thank you” and also send a note and/or email.

Only provide the name of your references when the potential employer asks for them. You don’t want to “overuse” your references. Yes, your friends/former employers want to help you, but no, they don’t want to be contacted over and over again if you aren’t being seriously considered for a position.

For further information about references, there are many good resources available online. Here is some great information: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/reference-letter-samples-2062971

Good luck to you and remember that references are “make or break” contacts for your career success. Treat them as such and you’ll do well!

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/margaret-gottlieb-1457753/ or contact via email: mag@gwu.edu

Hey all you cool cats and kittens - my name is Alaina Dahlquist and I’m a current student in the Legislative Affairs program. I’m a 2015 graduate of Stonehill College where I majored in Political Science and minored in Public Administration and Public Policy. 

Like I’m sure is the case for many of you, my interest in policy and politics was born out of taking AP Government in high school – my first in-depth exposure to the functioning of our great system. While in undergrad, I had the privilege of studying in Washington, DC for a semester where I took classes at American University and interned on Capitol Hill. My passion for the industry, and now the city, was confirmed. 

After receiving my undergraduate degree, I moved to DC within two days. I began my career as a Government Relations Assistant at the National Federation of Independent Business, where I aided the Government Relations team in advancing pro-small business policy on behalf of the association’s membership. A couple years later, I joined the bipartisan lobbying firm Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen and Thomas as a Legislative Assistant. In this role, I supported four Republican Principals and Partners on technology, tax, energy, and appropriations work for various clients. 

Currently I am a Government Relations Associate at the Pew Charitable Trusts where I work on a large portfolio of government performance policy issues including student loan reform, civil and criminal justice, state and local government fiscal health, retirement savings, and consumer finance. I also help manage relationships in our Government Relations partnership portfolio, which teams up with various organizations in order to promote Pew’s work and research. 

Last summer is when I became serious about returning to school for an advanced degree. After researching various schools and programs, GSPM became the clear choice for me. The school provided the opportunity to learn from skilled professors with distinguished careers and an ideal night-time class schedule for working professionals. The Legislative Affairs Program, in particular, offered a uniquely tailored opportunity unlike anything else offered in the city. 

Although I have had experience working at a trade association, a lobbying firm, and now a nonprofit, I felt the one thing holding me back from advancing in my field was a lack of time spent on Capitol Hill. GSPM has been an excellent academic supplement. My professors have had decades of experience on and off the Hill and classes such as Congressional Committees, Executive-Legislative Relations, and Legislative Politics have provided me with knowledge and skills that I use daily in my job.

Not only was I excited for the academic opportunities provided by GSPM, but I also sought to be as involved outside the classroom as possible. I successfully ran for a Senate seat in the GSPM Student Association and was elected last fall. After hearing about the GSPM Student Ambassador program, I was really interested in an opportunity to talk about my journey thus far in GSPM and provide advice in successfully balancing being a student and working professional. It’s certainly a fulfilling experience to speak to prospective students and I look forward to continuing being a resource throughout my time at GSPM.

A final note - As I’m writing this, the world is truly going through an unprecedented time. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone’s daily life. For those people (including myself) that are studying and working, it has been especially disruptive. 

I wanted to provide a few pieces of advice that have helped me in my transition:

  • Establish a routine and practice good time management. 
  • Keep your sleep schedule on track.
  • Exercise! I take some time every day during lunch to practice yoga.
  • Get some fresh air.
  • Stay connected to your friends and family virtually.
  • Read (for fun). This can often be difficult to do when having to read for class weekly, but I made this part of my routine by replacing one hour of TV every night with reading.
  • Don’t forget to take care of your mental health! I have found meditation vital in managing my anxiety and stress.

Naturally, there is a lot of stress in our country about people keeping their jobs and wondering if organizations are still hiring.  Already during the COVID-19 global health crisis, I’ve heard from employers who are still hiring and from others who are laying people off.

Should you continue looking for a job during the crisis?

Yes, of course, you should continue your job search during the COVID-19 health crisis. People tend to be a little more friendly and approachable during tough times. Fortunately, you can use several technology tools to aid in your job search.  Some tips to consider:

  1. Spring Cleanse - Make sure to review your Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts.  Present your most “professional self”
  2. Professional Email Address – I still see students who use “cutesy” email addresses. Those will not impress potential employers. If you must, use “cutesy” email addresses for friends. For employers, make sure your name is clear within the email. You don’t want to miss out on an interview either because the employer is unimpressed with your crazy email address or they can’t remember your name to contact you.
  3. Update your resume/cover letter - I see a lot of what I call “lazy” resumes and cover letters. By that, I mean that some job candidates tend to send out the “same-old, same-old” resume/cover letter for each opening. Back in the day, people had to sit down and type each and every resume/cover letter on a typewriter. I know, “Hey Boomer!"  Now, technology is your friend. You should have several different resumes/cover letters for the different targets you are going after.
  4. Skype and FaceTime are your friends during COVID-19 – The natural tendency is to do nothing during a crisis. While you may not be able to meet with potential employers for job interviews or informational interviews during the crisis, you can suggest Skype/FaceTime, phone and email exchanges. Reach out to people and ask for help.
  5. Linkedin – I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face … if you don’t have a Linkedin presence, employers may think you don’t exist. You should have at least 500 connections because employers are looking at that. I know, I know, there are exceptions – if you’ve been stalked and/or work in intelligence, you may be prevented from having a Linkedin presence. Those folks are in the minority. Don’t use it as an excuse if you don’t “fit the bill”.
  6. Keep Going – There is a thin line between success and failure. Don’t give up! Do whatever you have to do to try to maintain your mental and physical health during this trying period. Remember that your professors, friends, family, and university staff are with you during these hard times. Good luck!

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/margaret-gottlieb-1457753/ or contact via email: mag@gwu.edu

Recently, I have heard some people spread a rumor that “cover letters are no longer important”. Whichever group is perpetuating that myth must be trying to get rid of their potential competition for jobs.  Despite these rumors to the contrary, please know that cover letters are alive and well and very important for your job search.

Too many people send really boring and generic cover letters.  Those cover letters don’t work. Take a little time to customize a targeted cover letter, and you’ll have much more success finding and landing a job. Make sure to personalize your cover letter for the organization you are targeting. I call the first paragraph of the cover letter the “passion paragraph”. That means you should say why you want to work for that particular organization. It should be about them, not you.

Intro Paragraph Example

Dear Hiring Executive,

I am writing to respond to your __ position opening. My background and experience meet your stated qualifications, and I’m highly interested in working for ___ (name of that organization) because of the work you do to ___ (fill in the blank from information you glean from the website).

Body of Cover Letter

Highlights of my experience include (start each bullet with an action verb)

*Established a ___

*Ran ___

*Drafted __

*Organized ___

Close of Letter

Thank you very much for considering my letter of interest, and I very much look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

You can find cover letter samples online. A former university librarian wrote the “Riley Guide” (now called “My Perfect Resume”) which offers “A-Z” job search advice including cover letters. Check out this information online

https://www.myperfectcoverletter.com/how-to/

GSPM Students/Alums may share cover letter drafts via email for review with GSPM’s Career Director, Mag Gottlieb, mag@gwu.edu

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag by email at mag@gwu.edu and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/margaret-gottlieb-1457753/

Have you ever wondered why your classmate landed the job of her dreams and you’re sitting there depressed about having bombed your recent interview? Well, it’s happened to many of us, and chance are it will happen to you at some point. Try not to despair and don’t beat yourself up.

As with many things in life, preparation is key. We see how much work elite athletes do to stay “on top of their game”. In preparing for interviews, we should emulate elite athletes and practice, practice, practice, and keep practicing until we are doing the best possible job we can do. We will do a better job handling interview questions when we practice them.

Anticipate getting some of the following questions during an interview:

  1. Why do you want to work here? For this one, you’ll need to make sure to do your research about the organization. Check out the organization’s website and recent news coverage about it.
  2. Why do you think you are a fit to work here? Again, as with the prior question, you’ll need to do some research about the organization and craft your answer accordingly to show that you’re a fit for the organization.
  3. Tell me what you know about this organization? Yes, again, you’ll need to do the research about the organization. Too many job candidates fail to do basic research about the organization. Those who do the research will stand out.
  4. What is the most recent book you’ve read? This isn’t a trick question. Just make sure to have the name of a book you’ve read recently and be prepared to talk a little about it. When possible, try to show some humor or how your reading might relate to either the person you’re talking to or to the organization.
  5. What tasks do you do well and what tasks do you find challenging? This is the time to really focus on what you do well and show some enthusiasm and passion for working.
  6. Tell me about yourself? Yes, they’ve usually read your resume in advance, so try to come up with some information about yourself that is positive and shows your interests.
  7. Where do you see yourself in five years? This question is really old and can seem annoying. Just say you’d like to grow in the current role you’re interviewing about. You want to learn as much as possible.
  8. Tell me about an experience where you successfully responded to a question, dealt with a rude client, had to tell your boss some unpleasant news? These types of questions are designed to see how well you can relate your experiences to your work and they do take some practice. For these, you might want to role play with a friend or family member to be able to come up with believable answers.
  9. What did you learn in your coursework that you think would help you to do this job? At a recent Capitol Hill lunch, one of our Hill alums did the best job I’ve seen on someone weaving a discussion of their coursework into her job role. This question will take some time to think about. Start by recording all of the courses you’ve taken and then think about what you learned that would be applicable in a job.

Fortunately, there are several resources available online to help you prepare for interviews. You can watch sample You Tube interviews, you can go to Indeed.com for interview tips - https://www.indeed.com/hire/interview-questions and you can explore other career sites such as Glassdoor - https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/common-interview-questions/

In addition to anticipating and practicing answers to some potential interview questions, make sure to put your best self forward in the interview. Dress to impress. Show interest in the job, don’t come across as a “know-it-all”, be yourself, and show your appreciation to the interviewer. Good luck, and practice, practice, practice.

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag via email at mag@gwu.edu and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/margaret-gottlieb-1457753/

Hi y’all, Zach Barnes here. Growing up in Columbia, South Carolina, my father instilled in me a love for American history, and politics just kind of clicked for me while taking AP Government in high school. I am a 2014 graduate of Wofford College with a degree in Government, and I do what I can to catch every Terrier game during college basketball season.

Following graduation, I spent about two years working on Republican political campaigns in Ohio and South Carolina, before making my way to DC about two and a half years ago. I knew that I wanted to continue my education, and GSPM offered the opportunity to earn a master’s degree at night while picking up skills and connections that I could take to work the next day to advance my career.

When I started work on the Hill, I did what we all do – I grabbed coffees with my peers and with any senior staffer willing to sit down with me. I quickly realized that in the eight years prior to 2017, Republican staffers really only had the opportunity to gain Legislative Branch experience. During the Obama Administration, an entire branch of government was kind of closed off from Republican staffers. One connection led to another and I found an opportunity to work in a Cabinet agency. I jumped at the opportunity, if for no other reason than to add a bit of diversity to my government experience. Well, that and the fact that Executive Branch hours and pay are an improvement!

My work now still revolves around Congress. At the moment, I serve as the primary point of contact for about 180 House and Senate offices, in addition to pinch hitting on coverage for state and local elected officials on the Intergovernmental Relations side of our team. While covering those offices requires a firm grasp on a wide swath of HUD’s policies and programs, I’ve had the opportunity to step up and take ownership of HUD’s engagements with the Hill on topics such as carbon monoxide and disaster recovery, which I didn’t even realize HUD did! It’s been incredibly rewarding – at HUD, I’ve worked on policy and been in the room with Secretary Carson as he’s briefed Members of Congress on decisions that have a positive impact on the communities that I have called home.

Working in the Executive Branch has enabled me to specialize in a more narrow policy area than I would be able to on the Hill, where I covered what felt like 50 topics in my House Legislative Assistant portfolio. I think that the experience is complementary – I’ll be able to take the in-depth policy knowledge and the perspective of how Executive Branch agencies actually implement legislation with me should I eventually return to the Hill.

Ultimately, GSPM has given me a significant leg up through each of my career transitions. While on the Hill, I took “Advanced Legislative Procedure” with Professor Martin Gold, which gave me the tools to punch above my weight class, so to speak, during fights over amendments to the few “must-pass” bills the House pushed out in the 115th Congress. Taking “Executive-Legislative Branch Relations” with Professor Fisher in the summer of 2018 forced me to assess the successes and failures of the Congressional outreach efforts of past Presidential Administrations as I was making my transition into an Executive Branch congressional relations shop. While I still had a lot to learn on the job, knowing what to avoid doing during those first few weeks was invaluable, both in terms of saving time, and in building relationships. Courses like “Parties and Elections” with Congressman Martin Frost and “Managing a Congressional Office” with Professor Mark Strand have prepared me for an eventual return to Congress, should my career take that path.

So, knowing all of that, how could I not become a GSPM Ambassador? GSPM provided me with opportunities to learn from some of the best political practitioners in Washington, to get to know some of the brightest young operatives on both sides of the aisle, and gave me the tools that made me better at my job! As a GSPM Ambassador, I’ve been able to share my experience with prospective students, and I’d like to think I’ve done a pretty good job! It seems like each semester, I found myself working on a group project with a student who I’d met for coffee when they were exploring the program just a few months ago. Now that I’ve finished my final semester, I think I’ll miss seeing that transition from prospective to current student the most.

Zach Barnes is a 2019 graduate of the GSPM Legislative Affairs master's program. He is currently an advisor at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

I’ve often thought that if Dante had spent more time in the Inferno, he would’ve found another circle where people are forced to read financial statements and write budgets. For me, creating budgets or calculating the depreciation for long-term assets used to sound like a punishment (maybe the latter still is). When I heard the phrase “let’s talk about the budget,” I looked like a deer in headlights. But as much as I didn’t like accounting or the general idea of numbers, I also didn’t like that I had no clue what was happening with the money at my organization. Will we be able to pay our bills next year? Is there room to ask for money to start a project I want to work on? As a communicator, I take pride in my ability to reach audiences, but it was incredibly frustrating that I didn’t know how to talk to my own finance team. And the worst part was I didn’t even know where to begin. All I could think was that I just had to avoid saying something stupid so I wouldn’t get “caught” for being financially illiterate and thrown in financial jail by the financial police. How could anyone take me seriously when I didn’t understand my budget or know how we were performing financially? I don’t have an MBA and I use my calculator for more basic math than I should. I was stuck in my Inferno. I was trying to avoid the reality that if you want to have a seat at the executive table and be a key-decision maker of an organization, you have to understand the financial statements. 

Thanks to the business and financial skills I learned at George Washington University’s business and financial boot camp, I now have the confidence to sit at the table where decisions are made and contribute value to those conversations. When it’s time to discuss the budget or review financial statements, it’s no longer a punishment. It’s an opportunity for me to demonstrate to leaders of my organization that I understand the obstacles they face and that I know our business.

The business and financial boot camp was presented by George Washington University and Ragan Communications. Industry leaders taught me how to read financial statements, develop and plan budgets, and use financial tools to evaluate organizational trends. The camp was taught in a non-threatening way where I felt safe to ask questions about finance reports I didn’t understand. The presenters patiently explained key business tools to me and how those tools impact organizational decisions. Lots of people can tell you what an income statement is or how to advocate for more budget, but these presenters live their teachings in the communications world. They are all seasoned industry leaders and had been in my shoes before. The caliber and diverse range of presenters included Ragan Communications CEO Diane Schwartz, to professors from George Washington University’s Strategic Public Relations program- Director Larry Parnell, Marie Lerch, and Karen Vahouny. They showed us how to read financial statements, how to deal with business obstacles, and how to apply financial and business tools in strategic plans. Porter Novelli’s Joe Farren shared global business trends with us and how to communicate sensitive business issues with internal and external publics. And we even heard from Michelle Russo, Chief Communications Officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Robert Lee, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at the American Society of Association Executives. Russo and Lee shared their knowledge and experience earning a seat at the executive table as communicators. Their experiences overcoming obstacles taught us how to influence and gain the trust of leadership at organizations and how to offer leadership solutions to business problems. This all-star lineup of presenters knows what it’s like in the real world fighting for a communication budget. They have all mastered the ability to create strategic plans that deliver profit and demonstrate value to executives. The boot camp provided me the opportunity to ask them questions and receive honest answers that will help me grow professionally and personally.

During the camp, we broke into teams where we applied the presentations in a real communications plan. We were responsible for creating strategies, goals, tactics, and budgets in the plan. Practicing this process with help from the experts in the room sharpened my talents in a way nothing else can. The teams were also a great way to build relationships with other attendees. I met professionals who work across the country and formed some professional relationships I never would have if I didn’t attend the boot camp. 

Because of the boot camp, I’m trained for the business and financial problems that communication professionals face. I’m prepared to walk into a boardroom, look at an income statement, understand what’s on it, and ask the right questions. I’m confident that I can apply the business tactics I practiced and make good decisions. I’m ready for the next time I’m given a budget and told that I need to find a way to save $250,000 in our forecast and the budget is due in two hours. I’m equipped to present a new project to executives with accurate financials, increasing the likelihood my project is approved. The boot camp empowered me to speak C-suite, so I not only have a seat at the table but thrive there. With a seat at the table and the trust of the board, I can communicate the needs and wants of my department and be trusted to understand how my actions impact the whole organization. 

The world is more connected than ever before and it’s essential to know the basics of business and finance to succeed in this environment. The boot camp is a great opportunity for communications professionals, at any level, to build or refresh their confidence as a decision maker. Perhaps you know more about finances and are better at discussing business than I am, but for me, the boot camp was valuable for my growth and confidence. I still don’t find working on a budget or income statement an exciting way to spend my time, but because of the boot camp, I can understand financial statements and know what I’m talking about. I’m prepared to sit at the executive table.

David Overy is a GSPM Student Ambassador currently in the Strategic Public Relations master's program. He is a manager of state advocacy and government affairs at the American Academy of Opthamology.

Many career experts report that January and February are the best months to find new jobs. So, what should you do to get ready to job search in the New Year? Job searching can be treated like a diet. Make a New Year’s resolution to get ready and put your best foot forward. Just as dieters often have the most success when they keep a “diet journal”, job seekers should keep a “job search journal” and jot down all of the things they are doing to find a job. Breaking down the steps one takes in looking for a new job will make things easier.

  1. Use an online or hardcover journal to keep track of your job search.
  2. Dust off your resume – make sure to have a few different resume drafts for the different types of jobs you are going to be applying to. Have resume drafts handy on your computer and also make sure to have some version of your work history on Linkedin. It may sound simplistic or obvious, but work to ensure the resumes you store on your computer/phone match the information you list on your Linkedin profile.
  3. Prepare cover letter drafts and make sure to personalize each and every cover letter for the various job openings you apply to.
  4. Update your list of contacts and reach out to them for informational meetings.
  5. Utilize career resources available to you at your university and library.
  6. Buy some thank you cards and stamps to ensure you send out “hard copy” thank you notes to everyone you meet. Yes, email thank you messages are fine, but if you want to stand out, write a thank you on a card or notepaper.
  7. Take suits/clothes into the dry cleaner for mending/cleaning and ensure you have nice/clean shoes.
  8. Focus on updating your grooming – hair, shoes, makeup, etc.
  9. Practice interviewing with friends/professors/job search experts
  10. Exercise, eat healthy foods and try to enjoy at least one thing during your day
  11. Let everyone in your circle know you are looking for a job. You never know who might be helpful!
  12. Keep going until you find success.
  13. Good luck to you!

There is a thin line between success and failure. Too many people give up just as they are “getting into gear” with their job searches. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and make sure to give help to others who are looking as well. Job searching is hard work. Prepare for it as though you are preparing for a marathon or the fight of your life. Keep going and going until you yield results.

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag on LinkedIn or via email at mag@gwu.edu.

Does anyone land a job in Government Relations/Public Affairs from a job posting site? If so, what job posting sites should I visit?

As I always tell people, the best way to get a job in DC is through informational meetings with people who have jobs you are interested in. And, you can find many folks on Linkedin who are alumni from your university who you might want to connect with. At GW’s Graduate School of Political Management, (GSPM), we encourage students to reach out to fellow students and alums by connecting with them on Linkedin.

A job search should include a balance of informational meetings and research. Some people do in fact land their jobs from finding a job posting. It is estimated that about  15-20% of jobs are posted, and the rest are spread through word of mouth. But, it is good to spend a little time, (especially early in your career), on looking at job postings.

Here are some links that should be helpful in looking for jobs in government relations/legislation/lobbying/public affairs/public relations and policy

 http://www.opajobs.com/capitol-hill-jobs.html  and then there is a daily jobs blog for jobs both on the Hill and with trade associations/corporate DC Offices -- http://www.opajobs.com/capitol-hill-jobs.html

Other good resources - http://www.opajobs.com/jobresources_guide.php

To explore jobs on Capitol Hill -

US Senate Placement Office -- https://www.senate.gov/visiting/common/generic/placement_office.htm

US House of Representatives - https://www.house.gov/employment

Additionally, there are some other government relations specific job postings sites that are available for a small fee such as Brad Traverse - https://www.bradtraverse.com/ and Tom Manatos - https://www.tommanatosjobs.com/. For jobs with trade associations, the American Society of Association Executives, (ASAE), has an excellent career job bank that is available for free - https://careerhq.asaecenter.org/jobs

There is a good networking group for millennials called Government Affairs Information Network (GAIN). Here is the link – http://www.gaindc.org/ They have a lot of great events for minimal cost. I know a lot of young people who have landed their jobs on and off the Hill by meeting people at their networking events.

For mid-career or higher-level government relations/public affairs folks, there is a great job posting site that is available for an annual fee called CEO Update - https://www.ceoupdate.com/

At the GSPM, students and alumni also have access to Handshake, a job posting and career resources platform. In addition to some great some postings, there are resources including information about upcoming events and career fairs. Additionally, students have access to the Brad Traverse job site which has great openings in government relations.

There are other job sites as well. The ones listed here are a great starting point for anyone interested in government relations/legislative/public affairs type jobs. And, as always, make sure to blend your search with informational meetings with people who already work in the field.

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/margaret-gottlieb-1457753/ or via email at mag@gwu.edu.

Importance of Sending a “thank you” note/email after a job or informational interview

Yes, moms (and dads) are usually right. It may seem “old school”  when they tell you to send a thank you after a job or informational interview. But, sometimes “old school” still what works.

A recent Career Builder survey showed that about 57% of applicants do not send thank you cards/emails. In the survey, 22% of employers said they were less likely to hire a candidate who did not send a thank you note. And, 16% of employers said flat out they would NOT hire someone who did not send a thank you note.

Email or Snail Mail?

Time is of the essence in the hiring process, so make sure to send at least an email thank you within 24 hours of your interview or meeting. I like for people to send a quick email thank you and to write that a formal thank you will follow (i.e. a handwritten card). And, if you’ve applied for a job on Capitol Hill, snail mail is usually “scrubbed” somewhere outside of D.C. before it can be delivered there, so email is the best way to express one’s thanks after interviewing for Hill jobs.

What Should a “thank you” include?

Make sure to thank the person you met with and to re-state your interest in the job. You can include things you forgot to mention in your interview as well. Send separate emails and/or cards to the people you met with (no one likes the chain email thank you).

Good luck to you!

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/margaret-gottlieb-1457753/ or via email at mag@gwu.edu.

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