Getting your first job in your chosen career is the hardest. You lack relevant experience and interview skills. Employers view you as part-child. Plus, there’s a lot of competition because of all the others who have just graduated. However, this competition is ill-prepared for finding a job.

Knowledge and preparation can lift you above the competition and land you the position you desire.

Find your first job through intelligence and diligence:

1. Avoid limiting your search to the internet. You’re searching for a job online for the same reason everyone else is. It’s easy, and you can do it in your favorite t-shirt while eating a pizza. That’s why jobs posted online have so much competition. It’s also much more difficult to stand out. Use other resources while searching for a job.

2. Network like your life depends on it. This is the surest way to get a job. If you can get a recommendation from someone that matters, half the battle is won.

* Target a short list of companies and reach out to everyone you know. All you need is one good contact to land a great job.

3. Take advantage of the career services department of your university. Those people are staffing that office for a reason. They’ll look over your resume and cover letter, help with your interview skills, and hook you up with alumnae. You’ll also be made aware of any upcoming career fairs or potential openings.

4. Tailor your resume and cover letter to the position. It might be convenient to use the same resume and cover letter for each job opening, but you’re seriously hurting your chances of securing an interview.

* Think about what each company needs and show that you’re the person to fill that need. This will help you stand out from the competition.

5. Appear professional. This doesn’t just apply to your clothes. Get an appropriate haircut for the job you’re seeking. Clean up your social media presence and voicemail greeting. A prospective employer won’t be impressed by your, “Yabba dabba doo, peeps” voicemail greeting.

6. Stay in touch with your classmates. One of your friends might find a great job and put in a good word for you. Continue to build your network. This holds true throughout your lifetime.

7. Create a website. Everyone should have a website. Post your resume and present yourself to the world. Remember to be professional and focus on your strengths. Keep your contact information up to date.

8. Consider an internship. Internships are low-risk for the company and provide a great way to get your foot in the door. The pay might be quite low, but you’re likely to receive a permanent job offer if you do a good job.

9. Put your social media accounts to work. Instead of using them for socializing, use those accounts for something more useful. Reach out to everyone you know.

* LinkedIn is proving to be an effective way to market yourself. Many jobs have been filled via employers and recruiters searching the profiles.

10. Volunteer at your favorite charities. Although volunteering doesn’t pay anything, the contacts you make while helping out the charity could be instrumental in acquiring a job.

Looking for a job isn’t fun. It can even be intimidating if you’ve never been through the process before. Finding your first professional position is important because it sets the baseline for the rest of your career. If you can land a good job now, you can have an even better job in a couple of years. Being underemployed can limit your career progress for years.