Samara O'Shea

Archive for the ‘Letters in the News’ Category

367 Letters

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

On April 30th, Jeremy Vinluan will have written 367 letters–one per day from last April. (Remember 2012 is a leap year, hence the extra day). Read the University of Dayton student’s story here.

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.

More Than Mail

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Another day, another sad story about a possible post office close: Rural America Fears that Beloved Post Offices will Close. I really do wonder what will happen. Your guess is as good as mine. We should know by year’s end.

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. . .)

Tramp Stamps

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Stamps are no longer just for the dead. The Postal Service has announced that they will begin honoring living people on stamps now too, which makes Lady Gaga a contender. (I don’t really think she’s a tramp, but I couldn’t resist the blog title).

Actress After my Own Heart

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

In an interview with Hobo magazine, the lovely Michelle Williams announced she has some new career aspirations. She said, “I often dream of quitting acting. Walking away and becoming a laundress or a sous chef or maybe writing other people’s love letters for a living.” I hope she’ll come to me for an apprenticeship!

The Little Post Office that Could

Thursday, August 18th, 2011


It’s starting. The stories about post offices on the brink of close are coming out. Yesterday the adorable blue post office pictured above (the second smallest in the nation) was featured in the New York Times as a likely candidate for close. The article says 3,600 post offices are on the chopping block, but official decisions have yet to be made. It’s a big change that’s coming. The stories, like this one, will be sad. If they do decide to do away with this post office, I hope they turn it into a mini museum. It still has the really old school P.O. Boxes.