Culture 29 May 2020
We've all seen it in the headlines in the past couple of weeks: "The United States Post Office is dying." With the continued surge of private shipping corporations and a global health crisis that is cutting mail flow off at the knees, it appears that the post office may be joining local restaurants and small businesses in permanently shuttering once life returns to a post-pandemic normal.
There is an unconscious mundanity to the routine of the post office; it's something you never think about until the moment you have to. In this way, it's difficult to comprehend a world without a post office and easy to consider if your life would be any different without it. However, in all of the articles discussing bailout money, aid packages, and attempts to privatize, something not addressed is something that still feels undeniable: the cultural capital of a handwritten thank-you note.
However, in a time where jobs are going digital at a faster rate than ever, the new way to stand out may actually not be so new at all.
There is no denying that the digitization of best business practices has streamlined the entire process of employment — all the way from applying to hiring. LinkedIn was founded in 2003 on the basis that you don't have to shake hands to network anymore and is only one of countless platforms and digital methods that have replaced job fairs, handing out business cards, and the ever-dreaded cold-calling.
However, in a time where jobs are going digital at a faster rate than ever, the new way to stand out may actually not be so new at all. A handwritten thank-you note, the honored tradition of grandmothers and birthday parties alike, may prove more effective at helping you to stand out than any number of digital self-marketing techniques. Simply put, a handwritten thank you note continues to demonstrate something that an email follow-up simply cannot. A letter shows a little bit of grace, class, and care, and it's certainly cheaper than a fruit basket or a bottle of wine. Plus, you never have to worry about it getting buried in your thousands of unopened emails.
So consider this your opportunity to make it personal — literally. As much as we all get excited about emails reporting that our packages are out for delivery, the purity of receiving mail that is unexpected and unannounced touches us differently. There is real, tangible effort there, an endearing quality for anyone we might invite into our lives, be it through friendship, romantic pursuits, or even a potential employment opportunity.
By taking the time and attention to write out a note (and to spell everything correctly), you are demonstrating your employability and your character at the same time. A handwritten letter embodies all of the interview advice you've ever received: Be concise. Be authentic. Be considerate. Be yourself.
As much as we all get excited about emails reporting that our packages are out for delivery, the purity of receiving mail that is unexpected and unannounced touches us differently.
Let's return to the days where "You've Got Mail" wasn't just an outdated digital notification from AOL (or a rom-com starring Meg Ryan.) And while both of the references might make you appear out-dated, contrary to modern conventions, handwriting a letter won't. Somehow, letters have shifted into the elegance of timelessness, where regardless of your age or the age of the recipient, it will mean something more than the words inside. Handwriting a letter is about the details that make us unique and make us human, seeking out a connection to simply say, "Thanks."
Much like that job interview or consultation over coffee, however, appearance is everything. Here are a few online stationery providers that may suit your thank-you note needs:
A brand committed to "classic elegance and artful living," Scriptura seeks to maintain the etiquette of letter-writing through its stylish designs. They also offer personalization for their stationary, another way to make sure your letter speaks to exactly who you are.
Minted uses a network of independent artists and designers to offer a wide variety of unique and elegant designs. Minted seeks to support the creative in their craft through their dedication to community and accessibility, and you can contribute to this support system by purchasing some of their note cards.
- Sugar Paper
For a more minimalistic design approach, check out Sugar Paper, an LA-based company started by two women focused on creating "beautiful, tangible things by hand that would far outweigh anything in the digital space."
- Tom Pigeon
We love these geometric and abstract designs by Tom Pigeon that give a pop of color while still staying professional. Without any words on their fronts designating them for a specific purpose, these cards are incredibly multi-use and bring a touch of modern personality to your note.
A London-based brand, StudioSarah is known for their "feminine, contemporary collections of paper." The pastel color scheme and metallic accents bring a modern twist to the classic fonts and layout.
By taking the time and attention to write out a note (and to spell everything correctly), you are demonstrating your employability and your character at the same time.
Regardless of the stationary option that you choose, you are sure to make an impression by mailing a handwritten thank you letter to your interviewer or the friend of a friend who talked with you about a career change. Letters represent a transition back to basics, where gratitude is in the details, and networking can happen in your mailbox — not your inbox. And maybe, while we are seeking new, old ways to say thank you and expand our own networks, we can save the USPS, too.
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist