Graduating is a huge milestone. After the years of working to make it to this point, many graduates assume they will, in turn, be rewarded with a great job. Finding a job is a difficult task, especially for recent graduates with little experience and in a competitive job market where older employees are working longer and leaving fewer job openings.

You might be tempted to take a few months off after graduating to relax, but you might not realize how long job searches take. Hiring processes often take months, and getting a job in this market—especially without much experience—may really take a long time. Start actively searching now, since even with a May start, you might not find a job until the fall or later.

Here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re a recent graduate looking for a job:

Do your research. Learn all you can about your target organizations. You can use sites like LinkedIn to find suitable companies that are looking for people who have your skillset.

Update your resume. As an entry-level job seeker, you’re expected to have a one-page resume. Remove any references to your high school career and focus on highlighting your education, leadership skills, relevant internships and accolades achieved during your time in college.

Focus your search, but don’t be too picky. Don’t send your resume out for any position you see. This is not a good use of your time, and it’s not likely that you’ll be hired. If you’re not qualified for a job, then don’t apply for it. Starting at a smaller firm is a good way to gain experience and beef up your resume, which can lead to you getting hired by a larger firm.

Create an online presence. According to a recent job seeker survey, 89 percent of companies will use social networks as part of their hiring process. It’s important to create a professional profile on LinkedIn, but also on major social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Don’t be afraid to intern. If you’re having difficulty breaking into your desired field, be willing to intern to get your foot in the door. Many “entry-level” jobs today require one or more years of relevant experience. If you didn’t intern during college, this puts you at a disadvantage. Look for internships that offer some schedule flexibility so you can build your resume and still have time to take on a part-time job to pay the bills.

Practice interviewing. You might have been able to get away with occasionally skipping a reading for a class, but job interviews don’t work that way: Interviewers will be able to tell whether you prepared or not, and winging it. If you prepare ahead of time and practice your answers to likely interview questions, you’ll do far better in interviews and dramatically increase your chances of getting an offer.

Act professional. Make direct eye contact, give strong handshakes, and be prepared to give your pitch whenever you’re out in public. You never know where you could meet a potential hiring manager.

Communicate effectively. Don’t answer your phone or check your texts when networking. Learn to be a good listener, ask questions, and follow up.

Use your time well. It may take time to find an appropriate job. Consider volunteering or working as a consultant until you find what you’re looking for. As you can also include it in your resume with the experience you can have for being a volunteer.