The Power of Little Hand-Written Notes

note-card.gifAl Franken, in his most recent book, Oh The Things I Know…, extols the val­ue Per­son­al Hand­writ­ten Notes, as a means of net­work­ing. He calls atten­tion to the fact that Pres­i­dent Bush (the Elder) made it a rou­tine in his life from the time he left Yale to write thou­sands of these notes to friends and sup­port­ers. And he became Direc­tor of the CIA, Ambas­sador to the UN, Vice Pres­i­dent, and Pres­i­dent. Let’s leave aside the notion that he might have actu­al­ly per­formed any of these duties sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly, and con­sid­er Mr. Franken’s point:

It is so easy to send Email these days—click, typey typey, click, SENT! This devel­op­ment has con­tributed pos­i­tive­ly to increased productivity—as any­one who had to fid­dle occa­sion­al­ly with a fax machine can attest. Yet, there are some very notice­able dis­con­nects even with this most ‘con­nect­ed’ of all recent inventions.

First, because it’s easy to send mes­sages elec­tron­i­cal­ly, it is just as easy to ignore them. How many peo­ple are as dili­gent with their Inbox count as they are with there check­book bal­ance? Ok, bad exam­ple in my case. But the point is sound—which brings me to…

Point two, Email affords very lit­tle per­son­al con­nec­tion, when com­pared with the writ­ten note. You can’t hold a piece of Email, nor appre­ci­ate the qual­i­ty of the paper or hand­writ­ing. Instead, typog­ra­phy is stan­dard­ized to Ari­al, indi­vid­ual flour­ish is restrict­ed to the oblig­a­tory ‘e‑signature’, and you get sev­er­al hun­dred junk mes­sages a week, try­ing to sell you pornog­ra­phy, mort­gage rates, and a fake uni­ver­si­ty diplo­ma.

Third, how many peo­ple actu­al­ly take the time to hand­write notes any­more? Mar­garet Shep­ard writes in her book 
The Art of the Hand­writ­ten Note
, that it’s a mis­con­cep­tion that you don’t have the time. Ask your­self this: doesn’t it seem more sin­cere and extra­or­di­nary that some­one would take the time to send you a per­son­al hand­writ­ten note? That’s worth a few extra min­utes, and a walk to the post office.

Last­ly, how good do you feel last time you sent an Email note to some­one? Today, I bought these nice note-cards with a small lith­o­graphed image on the front, and I hand-wrote notes to two peo­ple that have recent­ly inter­viewed me for jobs. Now that they’re in the mail­box, I feel pos­i­tive­ly gid­dy about these nice peo­ple open­ing their notes. It’s some­thing spe­cial and mem­o­rable, in an oth­er­wise rou­tine day.

There was some­thing fun­ny about writ­ing these notes, how­ev­er, because it’s been so long since i’ve hand-writ­ten any­thing longer than a cheque. In recent years, I’ve got quite good at sign­ing my name at the bot­tom of typed cov­er-let­ters, sales inquiries and let­ters to the edi­tor. My hand­writ­ing, once some­what pass­able, was atro­cious! It took a lot of warm­ing up and prac­tic­ing until I felt com­fort­able with the result. Cur­sive was total­ly out of the ques­tion, so I affect­ed a kind of more styl­ized printing.

In a bad job-cli­mate, I think there is pow­er in the Lit­tle Hand-Writ­ten Note.

4 Responses to “The Power of Little Hand-Written Notes”

  • I’m aware that there might be some laugh­able hypocrisy in putting down Email, in an arti­cle writ­ten on a Weblog.

    But, there is a dif­fer­ence between ‘pub­lish­ing’ some­thing, and writ­ing an indi­vid­ual note. I hope.

  • I like talk­ing to myself… BTW.

    Any­way, I heard from one of the note-get­ters today, and I’ve made the cut to the final round of inter­views. WISH ME LUCK!

  • You remind me that I need to write thank you cards!


  • Nice to be remind­ed about the plea­sures to be had in send­ing and get­ting a hand writ­ten note. Best of luck to all in job-seeking…

Comments are currently closed.