Samara O'Shea

Archive for the ‘E-mail’ Category

A Friendly Counterargument

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Reader Masa from Baton Rouge sent me a link to this article: Should You Send A Handwritten Or Email Thank You Note After An Interview? The article was written by Jessica Liebman, Managing Editor of Business Insider. She is in charge of editorial hiring and suggests sending thank you notes via e-mail only–don’t waste your time with a hand-written gesture.

I was getting ready to offer my counterargument in the comments section and quickly realized I didn’t have to. The first comment, written by Mike Sprouse, summed it up perfectly. He said:

“Interesting topic, but I actually side the other way pretty vehemently in favor of hand-written notes. I’ve hired hundreds of people, and the hand-written notes always win out, and there’s not one exception. Most likely, I’m not looking to hire someone TOMORROW (just soon). If there’s a candidate I like, I always wait 3-5 days for the mail. Why? Handwritten notes stand out (b/c everyone takes the same tact as you mention – email). Handwritten notes take a whole lot more thought and effort. Plus, the thank you note is not meant to be a dialogue. The dialogue happens before the thank you note, so I’m not interested in having another conversation at that point necessarily. My $.02.”

Well said, Mike! Of course, I’d still like to offer my own thoughts on the matter. Below are Jessica’s points in bold followed by my counter.

“Dangers of the handwritten thank you:

There’s a delay. I’m a firm believer in following up with a thank you note less than 24 hours after the interview, while you’re still fresh in the interviewer’s mind.” – As Mike said, a same-day response isn’t necessary. If the candidate is a memorable one then the interviewer won’t forget about him/her quickly. Also, after reading that person’s resume and meeting with him/her, the hiring manager has thought about that candidate enough for one day. Receiving a letter a day or two later will be a welcome reminder of a promising new hire. Mail the thank you note shortly after you leave the interview and it will arrive in one or two days.

“The letter might never get to your interviewer. It could get lost in the mail, the secretary could throw it out, it could end up in a pile of envelopes that don’t get opened for months.” – A few years back, I e-mailed a cover letter and resume to Philadelphia Style for an editor position. The same day I sent the e-mail, I mailed a short follow-up letter and included my contact information. I figured I already sent one e-mail, why not try a different form of communication for the follow-up. Days later I received an e-mail saying they received my note but had never gotten the initial e-mail (went into the spam file maybe?). I never got a message telling me it was undelivered, so I would have been none the wiser. E-mail does not always get there either.

“It feels old. It’s 2012. Sending a handwritten note just feels ancient to me. Especially if you’re up for a job in the Internet industry. Be current.”– It is 2012, which means everyone opts for e-mail. A hand-written note can help you stand out.

“The chances of the interviewer writing back to you are less. The letter feels more final.” – After the thank you has been dispersed, the next communication should not be a message but rather (ideally) a phone call offering you the job. It is, however, a good idea to include your e-mail at the bottom of the note–in the event that the interviewer does want to write back.

These days, I’m sure there are some executives who might be annoyed with a hand-written thank you, but there are still plenty of people who will appreciate it. Try to assess your audience as best you can. If you were going to interview with Ms. Liebman then you should do your research and discover that she prefers to receive thank you notes via e-mail and accommodate her accordingly.

Passwords of Love

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Once upon a time I dated a man whose ex-girlfriend still had his voicemail pass code. He warned me that she listened to all of the messages I left him. One time I took it upon myself to say hello to her. I left a message that began with, “Hi Jim and Cindy!” It was an admittedly snotty thing to do and she called me several choice words afterwards. I just couldn’t—for the LIFE of me—understand why he didn’t change the code. He acted so helpless, “What can I do? Cindy has my code?” Um, you could change it. I think he liked knowing that someone cared about him enough to spy on him. It gave his ego a little boost. He and I didn’t last very long.

I’ve heard the argument for exchanging pass codes/passwords, and it goes something like: It’s a way to prove to your significant other that you have nothing to hide. Earlier this week there was an article in the Times about teenagers sharing their e-mail and Facebook passwords as a sign of affection. It’s just like giving someone your ring—sort of.

“It’s a sign of trust,” Tiffany Carandang, a high school senior in San Francisco, said of the decision she and her boyfriend made several months ago to share passwords for e-mail and Facebook. “I have nothing to hide from him, and he has nothing to hide from me.”

The great thing about trust is it automatically exists—you don’t have to prove it. Only if the trust is broken, do you have to work to earn it back. If your significant other has given you no reason whatsoever to think s/he is untrustworthy and you are still in constant fear of the trust being broken, then the problem is yours. Your insecurities are playing tricks on you—causing you to see problems that aren’t there. Only you can remedy this by facing your insecurities and, ultimately and ideally, ridding yourself of them.

The other issue with exchanging passwords is relationships can go sour very quickly—especially when you’re a teenager. The damage someone holding your passwords could do to your online reputation is immeasurable. More harm than good can come from this situation.

Again, there’s no need to test trust. Respecting your significant other’s privacy and valuing your own is an important part of a relationship. At the end of the day, I’m exhausted by all that goes on in my own e-mail account. Why would I want to look at someone else’s?

Letters are Letters

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

A friend sent this article to me: You Never Write Anymore; Well, Hardly Anyone Does. I feel like we’ve been reading articles about how no one writes letters anymore for the past five years. Letters may be going, going but they are certainly not gone! I guess it goes without saying that I don’t think they will disappear altogether. They are still one-of-a-kind-communication.

My favorite quote from the article: “‘E-mails are something quick,’ he said. ‘Letters are letters. When I’m writing a letter to a friend, it’s a personal note. You can’t send an email saying ‘hey, sorry to hear you lost your father.'” Exactly!

And here’s the Obama Campaign’s Letter of the Week. (If the opposing candidate has a LOTW I’ll link to that, too. But let’s wait until we’re down to one opposing candidate. . .)

Snail Mail My E-mail

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Not one but two friends sent me a link to Snail Mail My E-mail. Send these folks an e-mail (addressed to someone you know) and they will hand write and mail it for you. They’ll even seal it with a kiss if you ask! This service is free, and they kindly request that everyone uses it only once because they don’t want to overwork the volunteers. I posted the link to this site on Twitter last Friday and had a fun discussion with some readers.

Rodney (@rodney_o)said: “But is not the beauty of handwritten correspondence also the effort a writer takes to pen a note or letter?”

He’s right. This site does deny the writer the chance to connect with the page.

Reader Stephanie (@syntaxoflife) responded: “That’s part of it, but first we need to get people to understand how nice it is to receive mail! =)”

She is also right! When one becomes a lover of receiving handwritten mail, then the realization that s/he, too, can make someone’s day by writing a letter is not far behind. I am grateful for any gimmick that gets the letter-writing conversation going. If there’s anything I’ve learned from doing what I do, it’s that everyone has a letter story to tell. Whether it’s a letter they’ve written or received, everyone’s face lights up when telling an epistolary story. Sometimes that’s enough to send them home to sit down and hand write someone they love.