As a colleague, giving a congratulatory card shows you are a professional, a team player and caring co-worker. That you took time to write a note reflects effort, making a card more valued by the recipient. You can use a store-brought card or use top-quality blank notepaper and envelopes. A person feels special by messages tailored just for them. A few guidelines will help you impress business colleagues and celebrate their achievements.
Besides creating the message, there are a few rules of etiquette to remember. Send the card as soon as you hear the news. Personalize the note with the person's name, because everyone likes to see his name being used. But if you aren't already on a first-name basis, use the person's title, such as Ms., Mrs., Mr. or Dr., and last name. Use the person's full name, if you don't know if a nickname is appropriate. The very first sentence of the note should simply say congratulations on the new position. The rest of the note, structured into two parts, pertains more specifically to the colleague's personal qualities.
To craft a good note, put the focus on what the achievement means for the person. But keep it short. Short notes have more impact. Start off by thinking why the person feels good about this accomplishment, and write that in the note after saying congratulations. For example, you can say that the new job will allow her to use the newly-minted degree that she worked so hard for, or that she'll be finally be able to use her skills for a job with a mission that matches her values perfectly, such as someone who's a vegetarian landing a job with an animal rights group.
After acknowledging what the new job means for your colleague, Angela Ensminger and Keely Chace, authors of "On A Personal Note - A Guide to Writing Notes with Style," recommend looking ahead and complimenting her. Looking ahead lets your colleague know that you will still be thinking about her in the future, and helps to maintain a connection with that person. You can, for example, note that the animal rights' supporter's new colleagues are lucky as she takes her sharp marketing skills and sense of teamwork with her. Mention a lunch or event where you might be seeing her again. If you do not know the person well, you can simply write that the new job sounds impressive and you're sure she'll be a success.
Wrap up the note by restating your congratulations, writing, for example, "Congratulations, again, it couldn't have happened to a better person." Then, express your affection or regards, as the situation warrants, by writing "With affection" or "Sincerely." End by signing your name, first or full as appropriate.
On a happy occasion, you don't want the recipient to feel bad or offended. Cronin and Company, a creator of cards, recommends not writing that the recipient is lucky, because that implies chance, rather than talent or hard work. Other recommendations include not using so much flattery that the note strikes the recipient as insincere and not taking some of the thunder away from the recipient by comparing her accomplishment to something you or someone else have already done. Also avoid putting any negative references in your note, such as writing, "You finally did it" or "I'm so surprised." If your colleague got a job you were interested in, it might be hard to congratulate her. But remember that a written note shows you're a professional and a team player -- two attributes others can appreciate -- that might help you move up in your career.
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