Actions speak louder than words. Particularly when building your personal brand. What you do as opposed to what you say makes the most lasting impact. A fact that is just as true when it comes to job searching. Every interaction with your potential employer shapes their perception of who you are and how you operate. That will stay with them long after you are offered a position or not. So whether it’s your dream job or one you are just hoping to get for experience, the rules of etiquette for good job searching always apply. Follow-up is one of the core tenets.

Graciousness is something that should never be overlooked. You demonstrate this important characteristic in the way you handle yourself during and post interview. People mistakenly believe think that their post interview behavior has little impact on their chances of landing the job. They leave an interview thinking, “well, I’ve done everything I could”. Wrong. In person behavior and smart answers to questions are not the only benchmarks that seal the deal. (But they sure help!) A CareerBuilder survey found that 86% of employers determined the candidate had a lack of follow-through when no thank you note was received and 56% said it showed a lack of real interest in getting the job.

Not taking the time to confirm your interest can leave several impressions on your potential new boss:

• That you’re just not that excited about the job

• It’s not really that important to you to land the role

• You’re not polished enough to know that you should (and where else can they expect you to flounder?)

• You don’t take initiative

These are the last ways you want to be perceived when you are job searching. If you’ve done everything else correct up to this point, why would you want to fall short now on something completely in your control?

In a saturated job market, it’s especially important to leave a lasting impression and find ways to set yourself apart from the pack. Someone that invests time into crafting a personal thank you note that displays genuine interest will typically win out over others. Particularly true when other factors are considered equal. Enthusiastic might not be the word you want to see on a resume, but it counts in how you handle yourself during an interview and subsequent follow-ups.

And this rule doesn’t just apply to jobs you want. If you’re building your reputation, it’s important that you’re gracious and send a follow-up thank you note even if you’ve decided the opportunity is a pass for you. If the interview revealed that the job just isn’t a good fit, it is very important that you let them know now. Employers would much prefer you pull yourself out of contention if you know you wouldn’t accept the role rather than hang around and waste everyone’s time. By explaining the reason professionally and honestly, you can avoid burning bridges.

The message is simple: it’s smart job search behavior to follow-up after an interview and it needs to be part of your routine. Acknowledging you care about the time and efforts of the others you interact with never goes out of style and sends the right message every time.