The Thank-You Note That Made the Difference

By Janey Womeldorf

The Thank-You Note That Made the Difference

I was eight years old and watching TV. The Pan Am Airways plane landed on the tarmac and out stepped three air stewardesses; they oozed with glamour. The trio glided down the steps and then, bookended by two suave pilots, sashayed and laughed their way through the airport. Envious and admiring heads couldn’t help but turn as the handsome crew marched by in their crisp, made-to-measure uniforms and beaming smiles. They travelled the world, stayed in exotic places and represented the good life. The image etched itself in my giddy, eight-year old brain, and I knew instantly that was what I wanted to do when I grew up; I wanted to travel, I wanted their life, and I wanted their uniform.

At 19, I went to travel college. At 20, I got my first job working for a worldwide travel agency, and at 25, I got married. Within a month, I quit the travel-agency job I had adored for the last five years to move to Germany with my new husband. I loved my job, but I loved my husband more, and trusted that new job opportunities awaited. I desperately hoped, however, they would be with an airline.

I had flown many times, and the company that stood out for me was Delta. I had loved them as a customer, and knew I would respect them even more as an employee. They were my one and only pick, and I called their job hotline daily.

Three months later, my diligence paid off. The job wasn’t for a flight attendant, as they were now called, but for a reservations and ticket agent. It was similar to what I had been doing for the last five years (and loved), I still got a uniform, and the hours and location were perfect. The job was made for me. As I dropped my completed application in the mail, my entire body shook with hope. Two weeks later, I heard back. “I have an interview,” I shrieked to my husband.

I did my research, practiced my interview questions; even bought a new suit. The night before the interview, I printed off extra copies of my resume just in case there was more than one person interviewing me, and placed them in my black, leather portfolio along with my list of questions. The day of the interview I was so anxious to get there, I left two hours early.

When they called my name, I took a deep breath, walked in and firmly shook the hands of the two hiring managers who would be interviewing me. The next hour passed in a blur and before I knew it, I was tucking their business cards in my portfolio and shaking their hands goodbye. On the drive home, I replayed the interview, their questions and my answers over and over in my spinning head. It went well, and it was hard not to get my hopes up. Once inside my front door, I headed straight for my box of thank you cards. I had never sent post-interview, thank-you cards before, but I wanted this job so badly, I would leave no stone unturned. I wrote both managers a card, thanking them for their time while reiterating my interest in the position and respect for their airline. With fingers crossed, I dropped them in the mail.

The worst part of any job search is the agonizing waiting to hear after the interview. I checked the mailbox every hour, every day and screamed when I finally spotted a Delta logo. With my heart beating outside of my skin, I tore at the envelope begging for it to be good news.

Tears filled my eyes before I even finished the first sentence, and I felt my legs almost buckle under the crush of disappointment; I was gutted. Despite my heartbreak, I went back to my box of thank-you cards and picked out a new one for each manager. I thanked them both for letting me know, and wrote that although I was disappointed not to have been selected, I hoped they would keep me in mind for any future positions; I then wished their chosen candidate the best of luck. I dropped my two thank you cards in the mail and trudged back to the house with tears in my eyes.

Six weeks later, the phone rang. It was one of the managers. “Are you still interested in the position?” he asked calmly. “Are you kidding,” I wanted to scream down the phone, “I have wanted to work for the airlines since I was eight years old; of course I’m interested!” Instead, I responded with a composed but enthusiastic, “Absolutely.”

Two weeks later, I got my official airline-employee badge; three weeks later, I got my appointment to get measured by their tailor, and four weeks later, my crisp, new, airline uniform arrived. I had never owned or worn anything made-to-measure before and it fit like Cinderella’s gloves. I sashayed through the house like one of those Pan Am air stewardesses from the TV all those years ago and within moments, I was eight years old all over again. I bubbled over with disbelief and joy and all I could do was scream with excitement.

Working for an airline enriched my life in ways I never thought possible. I loved my life; my job satisfaction was off the charts, and my husband and I got to travel to places we only dreamed of.

Those two managers interviewed multiple applicants that week, and to this day, I believe the only reason they called me back six weeks later, was not because of how I answered their questions, my new suit or my fancy portfolio, it was because what set me apart was that I took the time to write and send them thank-you notes.

I believe sending those cards changed the course of my life and my career, and the eight-year old in me will be forever glad that I did.

About this writer

  • Janey Womeldorf Janey Womeldorf once went to work wearing different shoes. She now freelance writes and scribbles away in Orlando, Florida. It’s probably best.

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One Response to “The Thank-You Note That Made the Difference”

  1. Anita Ibeakanma says:

    A good one Janey. I’ve come to realize that when we say thank you for what we’ve received, it’s just an appreciation but when we show gratitude for things we still expect to receive, that is a very strong expression of faith and it actually opens doors for us. It is good to find a reason to be grateful in and out of season and whether good or bad. Thanks once again for sharing.

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