Sending a thank-you note after a job interview has long been a mainstay of career-search advice. But in the last couple of years, job coaches have begun pushing a new tactic: the influence letter. While the thank-you letter provides a brief point of positive follow-up contact, the influence letter offers the opportunity to address challenges that were brought up during the interview.
An influence letter should remain short, clocking in at around 300 words in total, and it should still contain words of thanks for the employer. In addition, you should do your best to assuage any doubts the employer might have about your candidacy. If you flubbed an interview question, or if an employer was open with you about something they saw as a weakness, the influence letter is your place to attempt a recovery.
For example, if the employer raised questions about technical skills you lack, you could take a few short paragraphs to show them why that won’t be a problem. You might want to point out that you have a history of picking new skills up quickly or demonstrate that you’re pre-emptively taking steps to shore up your weaknesses by taking classes.
An influence letter is usually only effective if you’ve had an in-depth interview. After all, if you don’t have a good understanding of the employer’s reservations about you, as well as their needs, you won’t know how to convince them to take another look at you. In addition, if you feel that you had a mostly successful interview, but that one or two issues are holding you back, the influence letter can sometimes save your candidacy. For example, if you’ve interviewed for a position in sales management but the employer is concerned that you lack data analysis experience, you can craft an influence letter asking for a chance to demonstrate your skills in that area.