A simple thank-you note is a powerful tool—and history proves it

A simple thank-you note is a powerful tool—and history proves it

You know that obligatory thank-you note you write after a job interview? It could make or break your chances of landing the job. A recent report from iCIMS revealed that 63% of recruiters reported being more likely to hire someone who was angling for a higher salary but sent a thank-you note than someone who wanted slightly less money but didn’t bother to express gratitude. In fact, the research found that only 26% of entry-level job candidates typically send a thank-you note after a job interview.

If you ever wonder where that practice originated, you’ll be surprised to find that its roots run all the way back to Ancient Egypt and Rome.

The Egyptians are well known for their reverence of the dead. Their careful attention to the preservation of bodies and the spectacular tombs that held them give us a glimpse into the practices that surrounded their belief in the afterlife. What is less well-known are the letters they composed to their departed relatives, which encompass the entirety of the history of that civilization. The way the Egyptians saw it, death didn’t end the conversations with those who had passed to the other world. They were just as accessible as they were in life. And their offerings of food and drink were held in bowls inscribed with petitions for favors and gratitude for those granted.

In one inscription, a husband tells his wife: “I have not garbled a spell before you, while making your name to live upon the earth.” And he promises to do more for her if she cures him of his illness: “I shall lay down offerings for you when the sun’s light has risen and I shall establish an altar for you.”

In a sense, these letters (some of which were also written on linen and papyrus) stood as some of the earliest examples of the best kind of letter you’d write to a hiring manager, reminding them of what you’ve accomplished and how that could help them in the future.

Ancient Roman soldiers’ letters also carry echoes the practice of sending thanks while angling for positions and promotions. Historians uncovered a trove of letters known as the Vindolanda tablets dating from around 100 AD that contain a trove of information about their daily lives and concerns. In one letter, a man named Cerialis appeals to a high-ranking official in hopes of getting a promotion from the governor.

Source: Fast Company

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