Professional thank you letters may come with a bit of anxiety. You want to come across as grateful, but not overdo it. You want to be genuine, but not sappy. And you want to be official, but not dry.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- 1. Set a Deadline
- 2. Determine Your Medium
- 3. Write Some Key Points
- 4. Draw Up a Draft
- 5. Walk Away
- 6. Re-read, Reassess, Re-work
- 7. Write Your Final
- 8. Send or Deliver
- Professional Thank You Letter Examples
There’s a delicate balance, and your tone and message will likely change throughout your career and in any given situation. To write a thank you letter you can truly be proud of, there are a few key steps you should follow.
On top of these steps, we’ll also provide you with a few examples of professional thank you letters — one for after an interview, one for a boss, one for a client, and one for a donor. Feel free to use the advice below as a guide and customize the examples as you see fit. Keep in mind that you should continue to use your best judgment in any situation, as you know the recipient best.
1. Set a Deadline
When it comes to professional matters, punctuality is key. It’s important to build a reputation for yourself as being serious and timely. The turnaround for thank you letters, like any other correspondence, should be as fast as possible.
That being said, give yourself a day or so to reflect on what you’re thankful for and to process the experience. You may think of an important point if you give yourself a little time to reflect. Once you’ve done so, evaluate your schedule and set a firm deadline for yourself.
2. Determine Your Medium
Though handwritten thank you notes are arguably rare and more special, you can still make a big impact with thank yous via other mediums. How you send your professional thank you letter may be determined by the contact information you have for the person.
For example, if you connected with someone via a video call and you only have their Twitter handle or LinkedIn IM, these are perfectly fine manners of connecting. Here are a variety of ways you can craft your message:
- Email or text: Be wary of “text” language and edit your message carefully.
- DM: Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Facebook or Instagram are acceptable if you’ve interacted with the person or business’s profile in a professional way prior.
- Handwritten: You may choose to hand-deliver the message or mail it.
3. Write Some Key Points
After you’ve determined your deadline and your medium and you’ve given yourself some time to reflect, you can tap into the key points you’d like to touch on. This part of the process can be as formal or as informal as you’d like.
Jot down notes of what you’d like to thank the person or group of people for on post-it notes, on a notes app on your phone, in a word doc, etc. Put this note in a safe space and set it aside for the time being. Or, jump right into the next step.
4. Draw Up a Draft
It’s time to draw up a draft. If you’ve chosen to use personalized stationary or to handwrite your thank you letter, start with a scratch sheet or type out your draft. This way, if you mess up, you’re not wasting an otherwise good card.
It’s not as much of a faux-pas to have a spelling error, smudge, or other issue on a letter to a friend or family member. However, you want any professional correspondence to be as sharp and crisp as possible.
5. Walk Away
Literally walk away. Go have a healthy meal or snack, play with a pet, exercise, or do something you enjoy. If you exit an ongoing project and take a break, you can come back to it with fresh eyes, likely more brainpower, and a renewed sense of purpose.
If you’re a forgetful person, set some sort of reminder for yourself as to not neglect your deadline.
6. Re-read, Reassess, Re-work
When you’re ready to jump back into writing your professional thank you letter — get comfortable — you’re approaching the home stretch. Read your draft carefully. While doing so, you may ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you missed any words?
- Did you make any grammatical errors?
- In a larger sense, have you said everything you need to?
- How well does the letter flow?
- Does it sound conversational, or does it sound robotic?
Once you’ve asked yourself the above questions, and any others that come to mind, you’ll be in better shape to write your final draft. Feel free to use a red or colored pen to mark up your first draft and make revisions more apparent on paper. Then, rework what you need to and elevate what’s already looking good.
7. Write Your Final
Time for the final. Writing a final draft of a letter — if you’ve chosen to email, text, or DM — may be a bit anticlimactic. However, there’s always room for typographical errors and other mistakes, so you shouldn’t pay any less attention when using a digital medium.
When writing your final draft, this is also a good time to verify the address of the person or group of people you’re writing the letter to. Once you feel confident in the draft, give it a final read-through. Read each word individually, don’t scan.
You can easily get caught up in what you knew you were going to say and miss an error or two.
8. Send or Deliver
Double-check whose DMs you’re in, what email address or addresses you have in the recipient section, as well as what email address or profile you’re sending from. It would be kinda horrible to send a professional letter digitally from a private account or unprofessional email address you reserve for family or friends.
Having these accounts isn’t the issue, but using them to represent yourself professionally may not leave others with the best impression. You should also verify the physical address of the recipient(s) if you’re mailing or delivering the thank you letter. Copy it onto the envelope clearly and legibly, or choose to print a label instead.
Professional Thank You Letter Examples
For after an interview
Interviews are a key example where you’ll likely interact with someone important and he or she may not benefit.
Though this person is searching for a job candidate and they chose you for a reason, their time is still valuable, and you should recognize this by going the extra mile with a thank you letter.
Dear [insert name],
I wanted to express my sincere appreciation that you took the time to speak with me on [date]. Our discussion and the questions posed have given me a lot to reflect on. I particularly found [this point] intriguing and upon looking into it further, I learned [more]. It is professionals such as yourself that inspire me to continue to forge on in [this field].
I wish you the best of luck in your search for the [job title]. If you have any additional advice or comments, I’d love to hear them. I hope to connect with you again soon.
For your boss
Thanking your boss just because it may work wonders for your confidence level and the rapport between the two of you. Even if nothing significant has happened recently, you can reference your work together at large.
You can also use it as an opportunity to secure more one-on-one time for potential education and mentorship. You may also be interested in how to thank your coworkers.
Dear [insert name],
Thank you for all you do. I truly appreciate working both with and for you. I’ve experienced significant professional and personal growth directly because of your expertise. Your approach to your work is inspiring, and it’s a joy to see you in action. I’m greatly looking forward to learning opportunities in the coming weeks.
See you around the coffee maker,
For a client
Thanking a client for trusting you with a task, project, or other matter, is a wonderful opportunity to foster a relationship and keep them coming back. It also opens the door for them to provide feedback to you about your services. If they feel appreciated, they’re also more likely to refer more clients to you. You may also be interested in how to offer condolences to a client.
Dear [insert name],
I’m writing to express my gratitude for your trust in my expertise and my vision. Paired with your goals, I think this [project] turned out to be a great success. I am truly honored to have worked on this [project], and I’ll be looking forward to future opportunities for us to work together. Don’t hesitate to contact me at any time in the near or distant future.
You know where to reach me. Cheers,
For a gift or donation
Gifts and donations are special opportunities for individuals to support a cause at any point in the year. Thanking donors effectively is a great way to ensure future support and further legitimize your cause. Here’s how to thank donors and gift-givers in a professional way.
Dear [insert name],
Thank you so much for your generous donation to [our organization]. Every [contribution] matters, and no [contribution] is too small to make an impact. We admire your commitment to [this cause], and, with support like yours, we foresee a future far brighter than one already dawning.
Write with Genuine Gratitude and You Can’t Fail (Ever)
Even if you feel as though your thank you letter leaves a little to be desired, or doesn’t quite convey what you wanted to, you really can’t go wrong. Countless professionals serve day after day without much thanks, even from the people who should be saying so.
Your small effort can have a huge impact on the person or group, and will likely inspire them to devote more time to how they can help further your growth and success. Really. For more difficult or challenging conversations, such as offering condolences, check out the rest of Cake.
If you're looking for more writing help, read our guides on writing a condolence email to a client and how to ask for bereavement leave.