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Have you ever received a thank you email from a colleague that was so thoughtful that it was almost like a short letter of recommendation? Or received a handwritten note from someone you assisted that detailed an appreciation for your dedication to a long project, how well you dealt with a difficult client or just how stellar you do your job in general?
If you haven't started keeping these notes, I recommend doing so now for several reasons.
How many interviewing situations have you been in where you've been asked how past employers or coworkers would describe you? It's usually a common question. If you have a file with all of your emails, cards and others notes of praise then you can refresh your memory prior to the interview and give the interviewer your favorite direct quotes in your answers. Your letters of recommendation might also detail some of this information, however, sometimes your notes will include more comments that are straight from the heart, more details pertaining to the particular moment in time during it was written as well as other information that isn't quite as general or formal.
In addition, I recommend being prepared with copies of your favorite notes. When answering the question about how others would describe you, you could share copies of your best notes to support your verbal answers. Make sure you are prepared with several copies just in case you are being interviewed by more than one person.
For those of you who do not have an online career portfolio, website for a virtual assistant business or another website that warrants the need for a testimonials page now, you never know when you might decide to start one later on. By keeping all of your thank you cards, emails, and any other positive notes that you have received you are setting yourself up for valuable quotes you can add to your page should you decide to put one together down the road. (As a side note, it is always a good idea to get someone's permission to reprint a quote of theirs before posting it live online.)
Even if you do a top-notch job, give ample notice and tie up all loose ends, sometimes the act of leaving a position is something that an employer takes personally and you wind up getting unwarranted bad references for doing so. I have experienced this before and it's crushing. Although you can use other coworkers and colleagues as references, keeping all of your thank you notes is extremely important as they can be used as a letter of recommendation in some cases. In my situation, for example, I worked with a recruiter to help me find my next position and they were able to use my huge stack of thank you cards in lieu of a reference from my previous employer.
Keeping a file of all the glowing notes you receive over time is something that will only benefit you. There might be other situations that these notes could be helpful for that I have not listed. You know you are the best of the best so why not keep those notes as bits of support just in case? Worse comes to worse, you can always use the file as something inspirational to flip through when you need a reminder of just how awesome you are at what you do!
Do you keep the thank you notes you receive at work? Please comment below!