Snail Mail and Interviews: A Way to Set Yourself Apart
Wonder why some lawyers insist on printing out all their cases and briefs? Not because they hate trees, but because a physical copy can help with retention and comprehension. Research shows that comprehension is greater with physical media, like paper, than electronic media, meaning that whoever reads your snail mail letter is likely to remember the contents better than if it had been an email.
So, when you're looking to make an impression, remember: email isn't the only option. Sometimes sending a card or letter via snail mail -- that is, the actual, physical postal system -- can really make you stand out.
Before an Interview
If you are applying for a new job, sending in a physical copy of your application can help set you apart. Even though the market is improving, employers still get swamped with applications for every new legal position. They won't get many in physical form, though.
With job applications, a snail mail copy can be a good addition to the electronic process. But, treat it as something that complements your pdfs, not that replaces them. Include in your cover letter a note that you've applied in both forms. What a printed version does is allows you to show that you put in even more effort -- a way to show that you go the extra mile.
After an Interview
Once you've landed an interview, send a thank you note. A physical, old fashioned letter or card. Yeah, a nice email can be good, but the average worker gets hundreds of those a day -- it's very easy for yours to get lost in the shuffle.
A thank you card is more than just a formality. It allows you to connect with your interviewer once again. It also allows you to show a bit of personality, so don't just send something generic -- the type of card you chose should reflect a little about you. Of course, a physical card won't guarantee you the position, but it could help if things are neck and neck between you and a candidate.
For Other Important Events
There's a reason we still use printed diplomas and don't invite people to our weddings through Twitter. Paper, with its physicality, can help convey the importance of an event. So, if you have something momentous, or even just more important than what you would normally cover in email, consider sending a snail mail version. Letters thanking an important mentor for his help, notices of a change in position, congratulations to your law school friend who just made partner -- all of these are occasions where a physical note or letter can make a difference.
Remember though, snail mail earned its name. So once you've decided to send out an actual letter or note, don't procrastinate. You don't want you thank you showing up a week too late.
- In Praise of Snail Mail (Los Angeles Times)
- 5 Tips for Your Cover Letter (FIndLaw's Greedy Associates)
- Lawyer Letters Run Amok in Simple Restaurant Review (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- Do Lawyers Need Business Cards Anymore? (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)