7 things every first-time job seeker should know

“Use these tips to help guide you as you navigate the job search process. Your perfect job could be right around the corner — happy searching!”

If you’re a new grad, you’re likely getting your feet wet in the job search world. There’s much to navigate — resumes, cover letters, applications, and more. It can be overwhelming and exciting all at the same time. We’re going over seven things we think every first-time job seeker should know to help you get focused and land a job. Use these tips to help guide you as you navigate the job search process!

Here are seven things every first-time job seeker should know:

1. Social media matters

Before you even send off your first application, it’s imperative to clean up your social media profiles. It’s estimated that 93% of recruiters will search for you on social media to evaluate you as a candidate.

Look at your profiles and review them from an HR perspective. Are there any photos, posts, or likes you might feel embarrassed by a potential employer seeing? Use privacy settings to make your profiles private, and delete anything questionable. Ensure you have some professional accounts as well. LinkedIn and Twitter are great platforms to use professionally — you can connect with others and show off your industry expertise.

2. Networking is key

Networking isn’t usually a crowd favorite, but who you know matters. Some studies have found that 85% of jobs are filled by networking.

If you’re just out of college or high school, your connections from school are fresh. Start with professors, mentors, and school staff to see if they can guide you to a company or job. Ask for recommendations from these people as well. And if any of them have a direct contact or connection to a job or company, ask for a referral. This will set you well ahead of those who apply without a personal contact or referral.

3. Research the company

Most first-time job seekers know to craft their cover letter, make a killer resume, and brush up on their answers to interview questions, but not all know to thoroughly research the company they’re applying with. Yes, employers are looking for someone who has the skills to do the job, but they’re also looking for candidates who are knowledgeable and excited about the company itself.

Use your cover letter to express this knowledge, and the interview stage is the place where you can really shine with your company enthusiasm.

4. Resume keywords can save you

As a first-time job seeker, you’ll want to understand Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). In short, they are automated systems that screen submitted applications and resumes for keywords that match the company’s job description. These systems serve as time-savers for companies that receive large amounts of resumes, or that want to quickly weed out unqualified applicants. Anytime you submit a resume online through a company’s website, you’re likely encountering an ATS.

Pour over the job description and ensure you use the same keywords and terminology that the company uses in your resume and cover letter. You may be a great candidate, but your information could be tossed out simply for not having the right keywords.

5. Look for related experience

So many new grads struggle with how to relate viable experience on their resume when they don’t have any. The truth is, you likely do have experience. Think beyond traditional job experience — did you participate in any internships or perform any volunteer work during your schooling? Did you use your skills to help a friend with anything that can serve as a work sample (perhaps some website design, writing, data entry, etc.)? Add them to your resume.

6. Practice your interviewing skills

Since this is likely your first professional interview, you’re probably going to need some preparation. Nerves and a lack of confidence can be common for first-time job seekers. You may feel you won’t have much to talk about when it comes to your skills or experience. The best way to break through these jitters is to practice. Get comfortable with hearing yourself speak out loud. Write out your answers to common interview questions and then say them out loud, whether to yourself or to a friend. When it comes time for the real thing, your practice can help you feel confident and know just what to say.

7. Freelance or remote work are viable options

Your first job doesn’t have to be a 9-to-5 office job. Today’s workforce is ripe with flexible work options. Consider a part-time job, two part-time jobs, freelance gigs, or a remote job. Expanding your search beyond a traditional full-time job will open you up to many more opportunities you wouldn’t find otherwise. FlexJobs is full of flexible work for entry-level candidates in over 50 different career categories. Your perfect job could be right around the corner — happy searching!

This article first appeared on FlexJobs.