Learn how to use an effective letter of appreciation to show your gratitude for job opportunities, job search referrals, and other kindnesses

If you're like most people, you were taught to express gratitude when someone does something positive for you. In fact, that's probably a habit that you've carried with you throughout your life. Most people almost automatically thank others when they hold a door for them, bring them their food in a restaurant, or assist them in a store. But how many people remember to practice this same habit during their job search? When was the last time you sent a letter of appreciation to someone?

In this post, we'll discuss the importance of a letter of appreciation and why you need to know how to write this type of message. We'll also offer some tips to help you create your own letters and provide examples that you can tailor to fit your needs.

What is a formal letter of appreciation?

Before you write your first letter of appreciation, it's helpful to know what you're creating. Anyone who has ever penned a thank you note has at least some idea of what goes into these types of appreciation letters. Basically, a formal letter of appreciation is similar to those brief thank you notes, but with a greater level of detail and professionalism. Unlike notes, however, these are rarely hand-written and never sent via text message.

Instead, most people who send letters of appreciation deliver them via email – either a formal email message or a document that is sent as an attachment to an email. When done properly, these types of messages can convey your gratitude while demonstrating the strength of your character and opening the door to new relationships and opportunities.

Why should you learn how to write a letter of appreciation?

If you're still wondering why you should bother to get into the habit of sending a letter of appreciation to others, you're not alone. In research conducted several years ago, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business discovered that people generally underestimated the positive impact that these types of letters can have on recipients. In fact, the results demonstrated that those recipients were pleased by the gesture.

Unfortunately, the research also showed that the people who wrote the letters were often too worried about how they conveyed their gratitude. However, their concerns about which words to use were probably unnecessary since the recipients' happiness at being thanked was not generally affected by the quality of the message.

The fact is that people appreciate it when you express gratitude. That alone should be reason enough to inspire most people to start demonstrating their appreciation more. The good news, though, is that there are a whole host of other reasons why you should consider using these types of letters in your professional life:

  • Sending a letter of appreciation after each job interview helps to keep your name and personality fresh in employers' minds

  • Expressing gratitude to supervisors, mentors, or co-workers who have helped your career can strengthen relationships by forging deeper connections

  • Thanking someone in your network who provided a job referral can inspire them to want to make additional referrals for you in the future

  • Letters sent to regular customers and vendors can help to create stronger bonds of loyalty

How to write a letter of appreciation

While most recipients won't be overly concerned about the words you choose for your letter of appreciation, there are still some things that you should do to ensure that you maintain the right level of professionalism. Delivering timely, engaging, and heartfelt messages of gratitude can help to ensure that you stand out from your peers. To help you write a letter of praise and gratitude, we've compiled a list of top tips below.

1.      Don't delay

One of the most important things to remember when you're sending letters of appreciation is to write and deliver them without delay. Try to get in the habit of sending out your message of gratitude within 48 to 72 hours of someone doing something positive for you. For example, if a company gives you a job interview, commit to sending a letter of thanks within the next few days. This will help to ensure that the recipient remembers the event or act in question and also demonstrates sincerity.

2.      Be as sincere as you can

Speaking of being sincere, timeliness is not the only way to express that sentiment. You should strive to be as authentic as possible in your letter and avoid any over-the-top language. If you go too far in your praise for the other person's assistance, you could run the risk of sounding insincere – which is likely to leave a bad impression in their mind. Always remember that simplest is best when it comes to gratitude. Figure out why you are thankful and express that idea in a clear and concise way.

3.      Explain your reason for writing

Your letter of appreciation always needs to clearly identify the reason for your gratitude. If you're writing to thank someone for making a job referral, say so. There are a few benefits to explaining the reason for your letter:

  • Your brief explanation can help to jog the recipient's memory if some time has passed between their actions and the benefits you received

  • Stating the reason for your gratitude can help to demonstrate sincerity, by showing that you understand how you've been helped by the recipient

  • When you begin your letter with your reason for writing, it helps to ensure that the recipient is prepared to digest your expression of appreciation more fully

4.      Brevity is key

It's vital to compose a brief and concise letter. The reality is that letters of gratitude don't need to be overly long to be effective. In fact, brief but sincere messages are likely to have a more powerful impact than longer, meandering letters. Try to stick to just a couple of paragraphs that are focused on recognizing the help you've received and offering your sincere gratitude for that assistance.

5.      Choose the right format

There are three main formats that you can use for a letter of appreciation. The one you choose will likely depend on why you're writing the letter. Those three formats include:

  • A formal email message (or typed document delivered via email as an attachment). This is the preferred option for many professional communications.

  • A printed letter that you deliver in person or mail to the recipient. You might prefer this option when thanking a colleague, network associate, or a business superior.

  • A hand-written, informal letter of thanks. Typically, this option is best reserved for personal communications between friends, family members, or well-acquainted co-workers.

6.      Edit and then edit it again

Editing is vital for any professional communication. Once you complete your letter of gratitude, you should take the time to edit it several times. As you do so, look for any obvious errors in spelling, grammar, or word choice. Pay attention to potential typos as well. The idea is to create a letter that presents you as a competent professional, and errors could pose an obstacle to achieving that goal. You may also want to have another person examine the letter before you send it. A fresh set of eyes can often spot errors that you might miss.

Sample letters of appreciation

Below, we provide several sample letters of appreciation that you can refer to as you create your own message. As you read through each example, take note of how to start a letter of appreciation, the best way to structure your message, and how to conclude in a polite and professional manner. The examples below include sample letters of appreciation you can tailor to show your gratitude for a job interview, job referral, or help you have received at your workplace.

Express gratitude for a job interview

Dear Ms Iqbal,

I wanted to take a few moments to express my gratitude for the opportunity you gave me to meet with your team regarding the open Field Manager position at ABC Corporation. It was truly wonderful to meet everyone and learn more about the company's vision, mission, and future plans. I was also thrilled to discover that we share a passion for water sports, and hope to discuss that common interest with you in greater detail in the future!

I recognize that our meeting went longer than anticipated, so I really appreciate the extra time that you provided during our interview. Your entire team impressed me with its commitment to the company's goals, especially when it comes to their eagerness to collaborate to ensure that the firm's vision becomes a reality for its customers. I know that you're all extremely busy making those dreams come true, so the extra time you devoted to my application is something that I won't soon forget.

Thank you again for giving so freely of your time and energy and for considering my application and resume. I look forward to continuing our conversations and hope to hear from you soon.


John Smith

Show your thanks for a job referral or reference

Dear Tom,

I am writing to express my immense gratitude for the recent job reference you provided for me as I applied for the Senior Product Manager position with DEF Products. Your reputation in our industry has always been stellar, and the fact that you were willing to lend your credibility to my cause means more than I can possibly convey in a letter. In fact, the team at DEF specifically cited your reference as a strong selling point for my candidacy.

It should go without saying, but I definitely owe you one! If there is ever anything that I can do to assist you in the future, please let me know. Failing that, just know that you have my deep and abiding thanks for all the help you have provided me in my recent job search.

With my deepest appreciation,

John Smith

Sample letter of appreciation for assistance at work

Dear Mr Johnson,

I wanted to send you a brief letter of appreciation to thank you for all of the time and energy you have devoted to helping me get up to speed in my new role as Team Leader. I especially appreciate you taking two hours out of your busy day this past Thursday to help me acclimate to the training process our company uses for new salespeople. I fully recognize that your hands-on assistance provided me with immediate knowledge that might have taken me months to learn if I had to rely on the company training manuals!

Managers like you are part of what makes this company such a special organization in today's economy. Far too many managers focus more on numbers and processes than the people they supervise, so your commitment to empowering your team is truly inspiring. I am making it my mission to emulate your approach to managing people as I work with the members of my team moving forward. As I do so, I would welcome any positive feedback or constructive criticism that you may have to offer about my performance.

With respect and appreciation,

John Smith

Enhance your career journey with a letter of appreciation!

Expressions of gratitude continue to be powerful tools for relationship-building and career advancement. Used properly, they can solidify team cohesion, improve your odds of landing a job, and build the type of connections you need to achieve your career goals.

Want to ensure that your resume delivers the message you need to showcase your skills and highlight your professionalism? Get a free resume review from the experts at TopResume today!

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