Here's the right way to infuse your post-interview thank-you note with holiday cheer while remaining professional.

If you're in the process of fielding job interviews as you simultaneously prepare for the holidays, congratulations! You've got a head start on your fellow job seekers' “find a new job” resolution for the New Year. As you move forward in the interview process, here are some guidelines to help you spread a little holiday cheer via a professional holiday message; a great way to be in the holiday spirit without compromising your professional brand.

Steer clear of religious connotations.

If you recently engaged in an interview with an individual hiring manager or search committee, it's highly unlikely that you delved into one another's personal belief systems. With the exception of possible future colleagues whose profession is faith-based, it is safe to say that assumptions are not your best bet when drafting those interview thank-you notes and emails.

Keep it festive, yet secular.

Focusing on non-religious holidays is a viable option when sending thanks after a job interview. When you include “Best wishes for a happy New Year” in your message, it shows that you're enjoying the season and encouraging others to do the same. It also allows you to deliver a positive, professional holiday message and sentiment without referring to Christmas, Hanukkah, and the like.

Be jovial, sans mention of holidays.

Who doesn't enjoy an optimistic and sunny greeting from someone they just interviewed? If you're sending out thank-you notes during the holiday season and want to steer clear of ALL holiday mentions without seeming like a Grinch, there are kindhearted and non-specific methods for achieving this. Some possible examples include “Wishing you the best this holiday season,” “Warmest of winter wishes to you,” “Celebrate the joys of the season!” and the standard “Happy Holidays!”

Related: The Professional's Guide to Job Seeking During the Holidays

Use clean, professional-looking stationery and email templates.

This recommendation is true of any time of the year, but especially applies during seasonal holidays. The tone of your message is one you ultimately decide upon, but I advise against using holiday-themed cards or email templates. Maintaining your personal brand and keeping notes clean, modern, and professional is key. Those little snowmen on the cards from your family and friends may seem irresistible, but if you're hoping to be taken seriously by an employer, cute or artsy isn't the aesthetic to strive for. The content of your message can be celebratory and happy, but the visual appearance of your thank-you notes and emails should reflect that of a serious professional.

Don't get too swept up in your personal holiday preparations!

If a hiring manager asks for something after an interview, e.g. a reference list or career biography, remember to include that along with the thank-you note. The events of the season may monopolize your time, but keeping your job search and related follow-up on track is important. Maintain a paper or electronic calendar or list of reminders to help keep things straight.

The one exception to the rules.

If you're applying to work within a faith-based institution, such as a church, faith-based child care center, parochial school, spiritual social service provider, worship-affiliated nonprofit, seminary, or other religious institutions of higher education, that is the exception to the aforementioned rules. Feel more than free to acknowledge a holiday you may have in common with an organization with whom you interviewed. If you're applying to a role with an organization rooted in religious practice or belief, sending a specified holiday thank-you message can go a long way. This applies whether you share in the organization's beliefs or not. You don't have to celebrate the same holidays as a potential employer to demonstrate respect for the traditions that make up their organizational foundation.

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