No more. Even conservative career experts advise that they be sent email. That's because handwritten letters popped into snail mail will take time to get to the organization and there is the real possibility that they might not reach the right desk or even be opened. In a digital age, those with authority pay attention to what is transmitted to them electronically - particularly through email, text messaging on the smartphone, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
That means the art of penmanship has lost much of its value. There was a time Baby Boomers and even some members of Generation X had to sweat out penmanship lessons in grade school. My report cards at St. Boniface School in downtown Jersey City, New Jersey even had a category for grading penmanship. When we had mastered the basics, then we could graduate to the use of a fountain pen. Ball points were viewed as too informal. Those were the days of Eisenhower and traditional values.
Today, even the ability to produce long-hand has atrophied for many. Aside from the signature on contract-like documents few are required to write anything. When interviewing sources or clients, I key in the information into Word on my laptop. Last night I scribbled the URL for my legal blog on my business card for someone I wanted to contribute a bylined commentary. She looked up, and said, "I can't read this." My chubby fingers, which have managed to get the hang of texting, can no longer write script.
Also there seems to be no edge to gain by sending written-in-hand snail mail to those in our professional loop. Actually, that tactic could prove a liability. The recipient has to go through the trouble, unless it is in postcard form, of opening the message. That takes time and time is what no one has to give.