While college prepares students for a lot of things, many graduate without knowing how to get a job. Of course, that's not always true, as some schools have job-placement programs and others teach the needed skills.

In many cases, however, graduates lack any real training when it comes to obtaining that first post-college job. The good news is that it's not that difficult to do, while the bad news is that you should have started already.

Robed college graduates throw their caps in the air.

You should start your job search before graduation. Image source: Getty Images.

What you need

Any job search requires a resume. As a college graduate or an about-to-be college graduate yours might be a bit thin, but you still need one.

Many schools have offices that will help you put one together, but it's easy enough to do on your own. Use a template (which can be easily found online) and list your education with expected graduation date, then include whatever work history you have.

You can also include any honors you received in school as well as any on-campus leadership positions. If you have any special skills -- like speaking another language or the ability to code -- include them. Since you likely haven't done much just yet, the goal of your resume is to sell yourself and focus on the skills you do have.

Once you finish make sure you have a skilled editor edit your work. If possible, it's also a good idea to ask someone with experience in your selected field to look over your finished product.

Don't forget this

In addition to a resume, many job applications will require a cover letter. For an inexperienced worker, a cover letter becomes even more important.

Customize each letter to the specific job and address any questions in the help wanted ad not covered by your resume. Use your cover letter to highlight why you fit the job in ways that may not be obvious from your resume. And, of course, again, have your work edited.

It goes beyond applying

The easiest path to a first job is to have contacts that will vouch for you or even hire you. The easiest way to do that is through internships during school. If you have been interning every summer and have those contacts, reach out to your network. Ask former bosses to have lunch or otherwise meet with you and politely ask for help.

If you don't have internships in your past, all is not lost. Identify places you want to work and reach out to the people who might be in a position to hire you. Ask for an informational interview and try to make contacts.

Use all available tools

Many schools have job fairs or other opportunities to meet potential employers. In addition, most schools have employment offices that offer everything from placement help to job listings and resume review services.

Don't forget to mine your personal network and reach out to anyone who might be able to open a door for you. This includes professors, family contacts, and even school friends who graduated before you.

Be professional

Through each step of the process it's important to show that you can handle the adult world. Show up for meetings dressed professionally and wear a suit or its equivalent for all interviews. Be liberal not just with saying thank you but in sending formal thank you notes.

Remember that potential employers will be doing what they can to learn about you. That means they will almost certainly do an online search for you and check your social media. Make sure to sanitize your feeds so they won't see anything that won't reflect well on you and build a LinkedIn profile if you don't already have one.

Be diligent and open

This is your first job, not where you will spend the rest of your life. Be open to all possibilities and do what you can to get your foot in the door. Consider every offer and don't let pride get in the way of getting your career started. Sometimes a very modest job can be a stepping stone to big things as long as you work hard to prove your worth.

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