A lot of focus is put on choosing internships with the most desirable companies in the best possible places. Expert after expert reminds students to do their research, dress appropriately and tailor each resume to the selected employers. Dozens of articles have been written about getting the most out of internships by absorbing as much knowledge as possible. People also stress how internships are introductions to the workforce that give students a realistic view of what they can expect after graduation. But that's not all ... .

Honestly, the post-interview thank you letter should be considered a standard element of the job search process. Despite surveys that have shown that most employers both expect and appreciate thank you letters, less than half of all candidates take the time to send them. Maybe they think they're not really important.

Leslie J. Delerme, director of career services at Ohio Wesleyan University had this to say: "It is imperative that students follow-up with employers after an interview. A well-written, well-thought-out letter will help to set a candidate apart from the other applicants ... ."

All of our experts agree that whether a student wants to accept a job offer or not, writing a thank you letter to the interviewer is a good idea because it shows professionalism and respect for the interviewer's time. "Thank you letters are really career marketing documents," said Wendy Enelow, author, trainer and career consultant, "just like resumes and cover letters."

It may not seem like a big deal but "recruiters often move between organizations in the same industry," said Shawn Graham, career blogger for Fast Company magazine and author of 'Courting Your Career: Match Yourself With the Perfect Job,' "you might cross paths with them again."

Dr. Debi Yohn, counseling psychologist and founder of CollegeWorks101.com, added that as an employer, the candidates who took the time to send post-interview thank you notes - which she feels should always be handwritten - will make a lasting impression and "when a job comes up that is a good fit, you will look for that application and call them back in for a second interview."

"Those who have sent them stand out more and it shows that [that] person is willing to go to extra trouble to obtain the position," agreed Patti Harman, director of communications for Restoration Industry Association. "Since we're in a service industry, extra customer service is important and affects our hiring decisions."

Like Yohn, recruiter, Mike Hayes, of Momentum Specialized Staffing, prefers that thank you notes be handwritten. "A good handwritten note is a dying art form and should be done throughout your career as a classy way to impress others," he advised.

Clearly, whether handwritten or typed; mailed, emailed, or hand delivered, a post-interview thank you note is welcomed, appreciated and expected by today's employers. And if students get started while they're searching for their internships, by the time they become recent college graduates looking for entry-level jobs, the practice will have already become a habit.

Author's Bio: 

Mike Hayes, owner of Arizona-based recruitment company Momentum Specialized Staffing, which is Ranked #5 for Staffing Companies in Arizona Business Magazine's. You can visit their website www.momentumtrans.com or his blog www.myspace.com/momentumemployment