When most people are typing emails or sending evites, pick up a pen and paper to write something people will actually remember.
Effective communication is essential. Period. Whether it’s talking with coworkers in the break room, calling an out-of-state relative or even receiving a touching email from a forgotten friend, the need to convey emotion and information is fundamental to the way we interact. (Click here to tweet this quote.)
Yet in our ever-connected world, brusque emails, limited tweets and terse phone calls have become the highways we use to communicate with others. One of the most important and meaningful means of correspondence, however, has taken a lowly priority: the handwritten letter.
A handwritten letter sets you apart from everyone else
Taking the time to send a handwritten letter after an interview or to a CEO you admire might be a more effective tool for landing a job than scouring LinkedIn or a college job board. Why? The art of the letter is a fading practice and it will help you stand out from the crowd – immediately.
The next wave of job-hunters who just graduated from college has probably seen more evites than Hallmark cards. And that’s not to say there isn’t a time and place for harnessing the power of technology. But think of the impact a letter could have in a world where the youngest generation in the workforce has had little to no experience writing them.
Think about the letters you’ve received in the past. Remember those that affected you so profoundly you still keep them today?
Have the same kind of profound impact on someone else — pen a letter
Despite knowing the impact these letters have on people, we don’t send them nearly as much as we should. Laziness, lack of time and bad handwriting are all reasons we don’t. But in reality, we don’t send as many letters because we’ve forgotten about the power of the handwritten word.
Our society’s instant communication has transformed the way we interact and lessened the impact of the messages we want to convey. Here are a few reasons why we need to unplug and start writing – on a real piece of paper:
It’s a novelty
If you type up a note and email it to a CEO, chances are it’s going to find its way into his inbox alongside the hundreds of other emails he gets every day. If the subject line doesn’t grab him, your note will most likely move down the list into digital oblivion.
When looking for a job, letters and email can work hand-in-hand. The speed of sending email lends itself to a quick “thank you” immediately after an interview. A handwritten letter, which will take some time to get there, is a thoughtful follow-up that’ll keep you fresh on someone’s mind.
You can hold a postcard in your hand. You can pin it to your wall and reflect on it. It’s more permanent than a phone call and more personal than clicking a Like button or thumb-typing a text message. Postcards, journals and letters are reminders of places we’ve been, memories we’ve made and relationships we’ve built.
Ever gone through old boxes and found birthday cards from years ago or letters you wrote your parents from summer camp in grade school? Those are possessions that can’t be taken away if your computer crashes.
To a potential employer or mentor, a letter is a physical reminder of your interest in them or their company. To you, a letter can be a reminder of where you’ve been in your career and where you want to go.
It forces you to consider and reconsider what you want to say
There’s no cut-and-paste or spellcheck. Writing by hand forces you to be precise – and personal – as you balance what you want to say with how much physical space you have to say it.
In some industries, being able to craft a well-written thank you note is a prerequisite to landing a job. Some employers won’t hire candidates who don’t follow up with a handwritten note — others require their employees to make photocopies of the thank you notes they send to prospective clients to emphasize how important it is to conducting good business.
It takes time; instant communication has robbed us of our patience
A letter or postcard takes more time to write, more time to reach its destination and more time to hear back from the recipient. Writing a letter is a good way to stay on someone’s mind over a long period of time.
Having time to unplug and reflect on your experiences by writing about them not only conveys a high level of interest to the person receiving the letter, but it also carves out time for you to think thoughtfully about the next phase of your life and career.
In an age where handwritten letters are almost obsolete, your colleagues, friends, family and business connections will relish the feeling of receiving a personalized letter. Nothing says care, concern, congratulations or contentedness like a letter, and that is something you can write home about.
Andy Bailey is lead entrepreneur coach with business coaching firm Petra and serves as the entrepreneur organization’s global membership director. Visit his blog at www.petracoach.com for more business and leadership insight.