In an interview with Alec Baldwin, Rosie O’Donnell talks about a job interview she had early in her career when she desperately needed a break. And the story she tells gives us a great example of how a simple thank-you note (or thank-you letter or thank-you email) — plus taking the time and effort to go the extra distance – can make all the difference. It’s a great story.
But first, let me tell you that in no way am I suggesting that a mere thank you note politely dashed-off to the person with whom you just interviewed will always get you the job. It won’t. In fact, there are times when a thank you note might not matter at all. But it’s stories like this — those life-changing “just maybe” moments — that tell you why it pays to go ahead and write one anyway.
Here’s Rosie’s story
In 1988, Rosie O’Donnell was a budding stand-up comic who had a chance to audition at a well-known Los Angeles comedy club called the Improv for a potential gig as a VJ (video jockey) on MTV, early on in its own career. She did her set, and was told afterward that “you don’t really look like MTV.” Probably not a complete shock to her. She was then presented with the chance to audition for the even newer VH1 – but she would have to pay for her own trip to New York. And she decided to go for it.
So Rosie flew herself to New York and met with the folks at VH1, who let her do an on-camera audition. And then she flew home and waited. But she did one more thing that not everyone in her situation might do – she wrote a thank you note to the director of on-air talent for both MTV and VH1, Steve Leeds, who had made it possible for her to audition in the first place. A smart choice on her part.
And he was “so moved that somebody wrote him a thank-you note” (her words), that he passed her audition tape on to the person who made the hiring decisions. And she was hired – and had the job for two years, where she got great exposure and a huge boost for her career.
Not only does she credit her time there with the chance to hone her conversational skills (talking warmly right to the TV audience is different from doing stand-up), but she got noticed by a film director, Penny Marshall, who called her agent about a little movie called A League of Their Own.
And, as she tells it, all because of a simple thank you note – to the right person!
A good reminder to thank not only your interviewer, but anyone else who may have helped you get there.
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