Once you’ve spent hours perfecting your CV and cover letter – you probably don’t give a lot of thought to how you sign-off your job application.
However, recent research shows the word or phrase you end an email with can impact the likelihood the recipient will get back to you, which may well apply to concluding a cover letter or application form.
Boomerang, a plug-in for email scheduling, looked at the sign-offs used in over 350,000 email threads to find out which were more likely to get a response.
They focused their study on the mailing list archives of over twenty online communities and looked at emails that were likely to be written by people hoping for a reply – which was indicated by screening for the use of question marks.
The most popular email closings were not always the most effective.
Boomerang found that the eight most frequently used closings, each with over 1,000 uses across the sample, were:
Thanks in advance
When analysing those popular sign-offs, they found that emails ending with “thankful closings” were by far the most likely to get a reply.
So, any form of “best” or “regards” should be avoided, if you want to maximise the chances of hearing back about your application.
“Thanks in advance” has the highest response rate, of 65.7%, followed by “thanks” and “thank you”. By far the least effective was “best”, with just a 51.2% response rate. "Best regards" (52.9%), "regards" (53.5%) and "kind regards" (53.9%) were only slightly better.
Boomerang speculated that the reason “thanks in advance” is a particularly successful way to close a message, is because “there’s a bit of posturing involved… the email’s recipient is being thanked specifically for a response which has yet to be written”.
Of course, even the most thankful sign-off is unlikely to save a weak application, just as writing an amazing application is unlikely to be significantly damaged if you close with “best". But it is definitely something worth thinking about – as expressing gratitude when you close an email correlated with a 36% relative increase in average reply rate versus any other sign-off.
Amongst the sea of emails and applications companies receive each day, it certainly won’t hurt to make sure your sign-off – and last chance to make a good impression, is a strong, thankful one.