Happy college student in cap and gown after graduation.

1. Get Practical Experience

Once employers start to look at resumes from recent college graduates there is one factor that sets grads apart: work experience. While a decent GPA is required for most jobs, work experience is what will get you an interview. In order to accomplish this, you have to go the extra mile in your program.

Many programs offer internship opportunities, and if so this is certainly something you should capitalize on. Paid or unpaid, think about the value of the experience you are receiving. While an unpaid internship may not bring in cash flow now, that experience is currency that you can leverage to get a higher paying job later on after graduation. Any opportunities to get practical experience in your field should be pursued.

2. Grow Your Network

The unfortunate case with many college students is that they don’t realize the value of their network until they graduate. At school, you probably have friends across all different degree programs. Build a LinkedIn profile, or at least keep in touch with these people on social media. Many of them will go on to find jobs after graduation, and will become valuable contacts in the professional world. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to alumni who are already in the workforce for advice on getting started in your field.

3. Prepare Your Resume

Before college, and probably during, your resume consisted of jobs unrelated to your field. These jobs were positions you took to have some extra spending money, and to show you want to work. Now that you’ve hopefully acquired some work experience we discussed in step one, you should highlight that experience in your resume. While there is no perfect length for a resume, one page is usually a good benchmark at this point in your career. Cut out some of the extremely unrelated jobs, and focus on what is relevant to your career path now.

4. Clean Up Your Social Media

We live in the age of digital, and that makes chronicling every college adventure with photos very easy to accomplish. While those pictures are great to share with friends years down the road, they may haunt you if they’re all over social media. Employers are doing all they can to determine if you will be a good employee. That now includes checking your social media profiles.

Private or not, you should be mindful of what type of content you are posting on your social media. Anything that you think would discourage someone from hiring you should be taken down. Make sure your online profiles convey the image of someone who you would hire. You don’t have to be an angel, but no employer wants to see you doing a keg stand in a basement.

5. Start Applying Right Now

Our final point is an incredibly easy one to understand. Start applying right now. This can’t be stressed enough. If you wait until after graduation to begin applying, you may fall into a bad routine. It’s easy to get discouraged from working on your job search after graduation. Right now, you are still used to completing homework, going to class, and being productive. As you begin to have less homework, start instead working on your job search. Begin by looking into the resources offered at your college career center. This is usually a good place to start looking for opportunities. Don’t be afraid to then start reaching out to your professors to see if they know of any openings. At the very least, start to apply through online job boards.

Follow these steps, and you will be well on your way to finding exciting career opportunities. The biggest mistake college students make in their job search is waiting too long to start preparing. Freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior, it’s never to early to start getting yourself ready for the job market after graduation.