Monday Musings: Are Hand-written Notes A Thing of the Past?

Several years ago I interviewed for a job working at a law firm in the downtown DC area.  As part of the interview process, I met with the managing partner, the office manager, and then a couple of the firm’s associates.  I went home from the long interview process and the first thing I did was write thank you notes to them all and dropped them in the mail.

A couple of days later, I was offered the job.  After I had been working for the firm a while, I had an interesting conversation with my boss.  He said how impressed they had been that I had mailed in a hand-written note after my interviews and that I was the only one to have done that.  He also said that it set me apart from the other candidates who had interviewed for the job.

I tell this story not to brag about my note-writing skills, but to stress how important a simple hand-written note can be.  And from the conversation I had with my boss, I wonder just how common note-writing is these days.  Do people still do it on a regular basis?  Or has email taken over instead?

Maybe it is partly the Southern way I was raised, but having received many hand-written notes myself, I know how special they can be.  There’s nothing quite like opening the mail and finding a little note from a friend after they’ve received a gift or after they’ve come over for dinner or even a note just to say hello.  It’s definitely not something that is necessary, but it’s such a nice touch.  It shows that they took the time and made the effort, which is really what it’s all about.

Having said all this, I’ll be the first to admit that I need to be better at sending out my own notes.  I always mean to write a thank you card or a “get-well-soon” note right away, but sometimes a week slips by before I can get it done.  Even as I write this post, I remember a note that I meant to send out a while ago after attending a get-together at a friend’s house.  But I will say this: I am trying because I believe strongly in hand-written notes and in the sentiment behind them.  And I hope that they don’t become a thing of the past because that would really be a shame.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some notes to write…

What do you think of the practice of sending hand-written notes?  Is it obsolete because of email and other modern means of communciation?  Do you do it?  Do you receive them from others?


Mindee - July 13, 2009 - 5:26 am

My mother told you to write this didn’t she?

I am terrible about this. The advent of e-mail and the fact that fewer people do write notes is great because it relieves some of my guilt!

Mindee´s last blog post..Another Conversation With Reagan

The Wife of Odie - July 13, 2009 - 6:02 am

I LOVE writing notes to people. Truly. I think it makes such a difference to write a note and express that thought. And on the flip side I LOVE receiving hand-written notes. So, what I’m trying to say is I hope I’m one of those people that you were writing a note to :)

The Wife of Odie´s last blog post..sushi got me thinking

joy - July 13, 2009 - 6:31 am

I admit I used to be a lot better at writing notes — thank you, thinking of you, letter, etc — when life didn’t get to busy for me. Unfortunately I can’t blame getting married or having a child as a reason I curbed my letter writing. In fact, it was when I was busy with my career before I got married. Of course, it has gotten worse of the years. I think mostly because I don’t have friends who write notes themselves. Though this is not an excuse, it certainly gives me an excuse not to write them. When I was growing up, my mom was adamant I write notes to thank for gifts. It influenced me in my adult life as I was very diligent in writing thank you notes. I know my mom was proud because she mentioned how she would make my brother and I write thank you notes. I want to instill this in my children because I find this is such an important and lost art! I know my MIL (before I got married) was impressed to receive a thank you card from me when she had sent me a gift. I also had a lot of penpals growing up, which I miss sometimes but I’m sorry to say I would not make a good penpal anymore. Handwritten notes have become an etiquette that is going by the wayside but I hope all will not be lost.

Mom of 5 - July 13, 2009 - 7:19 am

Being the good Southern belle that I am….writing personal notes for everything from ‘thank you’ for the green jello you brought when I was ill, to the ‘thank you’ for the wonderful toaster for our upcoming wedding. Over the years I’ve always tried to do just that…write notes for every thing that was given me, done for me, get well soon or just to say hello.

I belong to a business association and when I first joined in 1994 there was a class taught by the ultimate Southern lady of refinement. She taught each of us the importance of the hand written note for all occassions and the volumes it speaks to those who receive them. This class was very impactful and has “stuck with me” all these years. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve received compliments and positive feedback from business associates and perspective employers for my hand-written notes.

The hand-written notes were fast becoming a thing of the past but there is definitely a ‘push’ to bring it back to the forefront attention of folks and I think it’s well overdue. Nothing replaces a personal touch along with a personal thought and handwritten messages. Emails just don’t get it done…..

Jes - July 13, 2009 - 7:30 am

I am the worst at writing notes. I love stationary and note cards. I love receiving something in the mail other than bills. But I am the worst at actually sending others hand written notes. I need to get better.

Jes´s last blog post..Okay, this is getting ridiculous…

Kristina - July 13, 2009 - 8:02 am

My husband’s family is HUGE on TY notes. My family is not. It’s been an adjustment.

I hope you’re doing well! I never see you anymore in blogland!

Kristina´s last blog post..Ad Libs

Sarah @ - July 13, 2009 - 8:16 am

We’re pretty big on handwritten notes, but I have to admit up front that I am THE WORST at sending them. I constantly find letters – thank you or otherwise – that were written months ago and never sent. So people are chronically receiving things from us very, very late. Sigh.

It’s just…there is so much personality, so much OOMPH in a handwritten letter that just doesn’t exist in an e-mail, you know?

Sarah @´s last blog post..What came before.

Jessika - July 13, 2009 - 8:31 am

I entirely suspect that the note is one of the main reasons I have my current job. After an interview where I felt like I was a newbie and without sufficient experience, I addressed those issues head-on in a handwritten “thank you for the interview, now here’s how I can meet your challenges” note. I got a second interview. When I came in for my second interview, I caught a glimpse of the note taped to the inside of my applicant notebook that the boss men had made for my file.

I got the job.

I suspect that you’re right though. A lot of people do not even send thank you notes. Having sent many wedding gifts over the years, I’m always appalled when the gifts do not result in even a small note back. I mean, even if the gift’s total was $20, you’re still netting an approximately $19.50 gift after postage costs (ignoring possible invite mailing costs).

Of course, as I say this, I have a mountain of thank you notes to write and a self-imposed deadline of Friday to get them out… but I figure that 3 weeks after the wedding is an acceptable timeline. Books say I have 6 months, but that just sounds wrong.

Jessika´s last blog post..Camping

cher - July 13, 2009 - 9:01 am

i love the thought of notes. I am guilty, probably more than most, to rely on email. i have used the excuse in business, that i will have written document of what has gone on in a transaction. but there really is no excuse in personal life, is there?

along the same lines, i’ve been thinking about how those little things that we do, can affect someone deeply. how many times do you hear of people making a comment that makes someones day…little things we can do

cher´s last blog post..mixing it up

Courtney - July 13, 2009 - 9:46 am

I keep telling myself that I need to send friends and family “hey how are you” cards/letters/notes/postcard. But I have yet to. Life keeps slipping by. Maybe I’ll make that a weekly goal, write at least 2 people a note and drop it in the mail.

Although, the way the postal dept keeps increasing the price of stamps I’ll be broke just after a few months. Maybe that’s one of the reasons that writing letters had gone by the wayside…

Courtney´s last blog post..God’s Chisel

maria - July 13, 2009 - 11:14 am

I am really bad at sending “real” mail.Don’t thin I can even remember when I last did it. Must go and do now.

maria´s last blog post..Lyxigt värre

Sandy - July 13, 2009 - 11:41 am

Yes, I have received many many hand-written notes and have written many myself. Even though e-mail is faster, easier; sometimes it just won’t do and a hand-written note or card must be sent.
Traditions of the South… I think they go on every where. :)

Sandy´s last blog post..It was a great day yesterday!

Jill - July 13, 2009 - 12:53 pm

I love getting notes–real mail–and I try to send them, especially in the case of an interview. I aim to send them for other stuff too but my intentions seem to be better than my actions…

Jill´s last blog post..Challenge to Myself

Sam - July 13, 2009 - 1:37 pm

Love hand-written thank you notes. I try to send them every time people send us gifts. I was especially good about it during our wedding and hope to continue that habit with this baby. I confess that we’ve already received gifts and I need to get on the ball!

I, too, sent handwritten thank you notes for jobs and did so after interviewing for my current job.

Slimy guy alert! Our office interviewed candidates for another position a few months ago and one guy was pretty slimy. He did a lot of inflated name dropping to make himself seem more affiliated than he really was. He later tried to personally deliver a hand written note to get some more face time with the boss. We found him snooping around our office kitchen, trying to make his way past the secretary to get to the back of the office. He did not get the job.

Moral of story – send those thank you notes for interviews by mail and skip the awkwardness/inappropriateness of stopping by unannounced.

Melody C - July 13, 2009 - 6:57 pm

In my recent interview process, I immediately sent handwritten notes. I’m sure this was only icing on the cake as I understand I was probably the best qualified candidate anyway, but it sure didn’t hurt to thank them for a very professional interview process.

I do correspond primarily by email but my sister in Romania loves getting paper mail. My family is alternating sending letters, postcards, and magazines with the frequent emails and even phone calls. But nothing says “I love you” like that handwritten piece of mail!!!

veggiebelly - July 13, 2009 - 10:26 pm

I’m really happy to see that a hand written note set you apart from the competition for the job! They may be a bit outdated, but its always nice to receive a hand written note or letter…its just more personal. One of my most cherished possessions is a folder full of handwritten letters my friend wrote to me over a period of 2 years when we lived in different countries..

veggiebelly´s last blog post..Lavender Picking, Culinary Uses for Lavender and Lavender Roasted Onions

Alzo - July 14, 2009 - 3:13 am

I think handwritten notes are great, and a sign of refinement and class. I do not write them as often as I should, because they do take time. I agree that it is really nice to receive such a note, and it never fails to make me feel good to get one. At the same time, if someone cannot find the time for an old fashioned note, an email thank you is a lot better than nothing. Thanks for the nice post.

kriss - July 14, 2009 - 5:08 am

I think that today it’s just easier to send an email. I think that handwritten notes are considered a “lost art” if you will. Not to mention postage has gone up so much and if it goes up much more, I won’t be able to send out my annual Christmas card picture. One thing that is a pet peeve of mine is sending an Evite opposed to an actual invitation. So although my friends don’t think I am hip, I still continue to send invitations through the mail!!! Maybe I need to stick a note in the mail today to an old friend. I think I just might.


Tabitha Blue - July 15, 2009 - 7:27 am

I think handwritten notes can be so special… I have to do better at that myself, but I try to as much as I can. Thanks for the reminder, I have a few notes to write as well!


Tabitha Blue´s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday… Time To Leave The Beach

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