Dear @CallingKristin,

I am going to be graduating in May and will be looking for a job. Is there anything I need to be doing now?

Great question and the answer is ABSOLUTELY! Here are six tips for soon-to-be graduates:

1. Run, don’t walk, to your college’s career center. These gems are packed with great information, knowledgeable people, and most importantly, job leads. Put a resume together to bring with you and set up an appointment to get it reviewed. Attend all of the campus career fairs and interview with as many companies as possible. Even if you don’t get a job offer you’ve increase the likelihood of someone hiring you and gotten interview experience.

2. Start getting your letters of reference together. In much the same way you used recommendation letters to get accepted to college, reference letters written by professors and previous employers can speak for you in ways your resume and cover letter cannot. Many colleges have a service where they will keep reference these on file and send them out upon request.

3. Fire up your network. 7 out of 10 jobs come from referrals and these referrals are often one person removed. For example, let’s say you know Kelly and Kelly knows Mike. Mike would be one person removed from you and he would be the person looking to hire someone. Kelly is the connector between the two of you. Kelly will not gush to Mike about how fabulous you are if Kelly does not know you are interested in getting a job so be sure to let everyone know you are looking. Networks include friends, parents, parent’s friends, friend’s parents, etc…

4. Get clear on what you want. In spite of what you see on the news, reality television, and in the movies most people in this world are genuinely helpful and not out to harm you. Very few helpful people will remain that way if you can’t tell them what you want them to do for you. Here are some things to clear on before you ask for help : 1. Where do you want to live? 2. What type of job do you want?

5. Begin searching for jobs now. The band is already practicing Pomp and Circumstance, the Graduation Office is lining up a speaker, and May is going to be here before you know it. Getting a job often takes a few months so it is smart to begin identifying what companies, organizations, for whom you would like to work. Try to see many different job descriptions.

6. Set realistic expectations. Though you are worth far more than any amount of money, the paychecks you get in the beginning of your career may make you question your value as a human being. Most everyone starts out in an entry-level job and has to work their way up the food chain to earn the big salaries. As a new graduate you have little room to negotiate because you don’t have a proven track record to show case your capabilities besides your report card.

Kristin Hiemstra is Founder and President of Art of Potential and the Hired in 30 workshops. She would love to answer your career related questions. Feel free to email your career concerns to Follow her on Twitter @callingkristin.