I had a professor in college who gave her class the following advice:

“Always, always send a thank you card to your interviewer.  I personally have never hired someone who didn’t send me a thank you card.”

I choked on the audacity.  I gagged.  I collapsed for a moment on my desk.  Then I raised my hand.

“Seriously?”

She was serious.

After a minute or two I gave up trying to get her to explain the reasoning behind her strict thank you card policy; she just kept on evading the question.  Her only clarification was that a thank you email does not suffice.  I left the classroom that day in a prickly mood that lasted all afternoon.  I took enormous offense to her statement—not because I fail to send thank you notes to my interviewers, but because a thank you note IN NO WAY qualifies a person for a job.  Maybe a greeting card content writerMaybe.

Here’s what I think happened to my professor.  I think she is the product of a vicious cycle in our current hiring environment.  When she was in my position, just out of college and applying for jobs in her field, I imagine she interviewed at numerous publications and wrote just as many fruitless thank you cards.  Then one day she got a job offer from one of her interviewers, who must have told her, “By the way, that was a very nice thank you card you sent.”  Then my professor sprouted an evil grin, turned a slightly greenish hue, and her toes curled up at the tips, and her heart shrank to a third of its size.

In her mind, I think the thank you card became the reason for her job offer, even though it probably had little to do with it.  In our current jobless job market, we’re more likely to overanalyze our successes when we finally get that call back.  This is problematic because it lends itself to the creation of people like my professor, who, because they have been abused by the system in the past, become abusive when the hiring power finally falls into their hands.

This is serious stuff.  We need people to start hiring more regularly so that interviewees like us can stay sane.  Monsters are being created.  And they’re very real.

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