The job market is tough on a good day, especially for students right out of college. A few years ago you could get hired right away for having a degree, but now it is much tougher.

For some, it is taking them at least a year out of college to get hired. I’m not talking about the kids you are picturing who have bad grades and partied a lot.

I’m talking about the students with good grades, who worked and paid for school and were also involved in extracurricular activities.

Here are five tips that will help you get hired right out of school…

  1. Start Your Job Search Early – Many students wait until after graduation to start looking for a job. No matter how busy you are, make time for your job hunt. It is a long process that takes patience and practice.
  2. Show Off Your Skills – To stand out from the crowd, you need more than a stellar resume. Since you don’t have a ton of experience yet, take the time to build an online portfolio of what you have learned from internships and classes. For example, if you are looking for a job in marketing or creative writing, start a blog and continue to write and create until you land the job.
  3. Expand Your Network – Think of whom you know through internships, work, religious institutions, volunteering and of course family friends. Do any of these people have a connection with a company or industry you would like to work in? Most likely the answer is yes. Talk to everyone you can about what you are looking for in a job. Don’t be shy when you are on the hunt.
  4. Be an Active Intern – Don’t be afraid to ask for more difficult tasks. Find out what the company’s hiring process is like and seek out a mentor. Get descriptions of entry-level positions and work towards gaining the necessary skills to land the job.
  5. Apply High – Just because you don’t have all the skills and qualifications, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply. You may be the right candidate for the job without those certain listed ‘requirements’. Make sure you are confident and prepared for the interview.

Don’t wait for the perfect job to land in your lap. That is NOT going to happen. Take the time to network, work hard and don’t give up.