If you want to graduate with a stellar resume, it’s time to start looking for a summer job that will get you the experience you need. Here are the 6 steps to landing the summer job you want:

Start looking yesterday

As we head into the third month of 2017, you’re already late.  Some of the best jobs have already been taken. That’s just the truth. Does that mean you’ve missed your chance? Absolutely not! It just means that it’s time to kick it into overdrive and get the applications out.

typing fast

For future reference, the sooner you get your name in front of companies the better. If a company is used to taking on summer students, chances are they’ve started the interviewing process in January (or early February). Some of them are have made their decisions by February.

Have a LinkedIn presence

Nothing says zero experience like being MIA from LinkedIn. LinkedIn is dying as a social network. There are way too may people arguing over politics and silly memes. That said, employers still utilize LinkedIn to check out viable options. It can take some time to build a strong LinkedIn profile, but having something filled out is better than not coming up in a search.

If you really want to step up your game, follow these tips in 5 Tricks to Supercharge your LinkedIn Page.

Create a content strategy

Not to sound like your parents, but you need to be smart with what you’re post on social media. If you’re applying to a progressive company they may be into your risqué art.  If you’re trying to land your first accounting internship, it’s probably best they don’t see how messed up you’re getting on weekends. Your social media profiles are a reflection of who you are.  If  you’re not ready to start censoring, consider switching profiles or making accounts private.

private account

If you’re looking at marketing or creative internships that require an online presence, try creating two profiles on channels like Twitter or Instagram: one with your name that holds professional and relevant content while the other can’t be tied to you from the outside and holds all your dirty secrets.

Be genuine and authentic

Nothing is worse than a stale and predictable cover letter. Keep in mind employers are receiving applications from other students just like you. Too often students fall on big words and fancy terms to try to sound like a good fit for the job. Just be yourself, and write like you would speak face-to-face with them. Be honest about your skill sets and show some personality.

Once your authenticity gets you in the door, the employer will see the same great personality they saw on paper and you’re already off to a better start than most!

Connect with your network and ask for referrals

People aren’t kidding when they say it’s all about who you know. Every job I’ve ever gotten has been through a personal or professional connection I’ve maintained, and quite frankly, there’s nothing wrong with that. Companies trust their employees’ values and instincts, and often even provide incentives for anyone who can refer a successful candidate for an open position.

Sick reference

Stay connected with your network and don’t be afraid to reach out. If you know an acquaintance who works at the company you’re applying for, there’s never any harm in asking them to drop a quick email over to the hiring manager. They don’t have to be a close friend to have confidence in your abilities to perform as needed.

Stop opting out before you have to

When you’re applying for positions, it’s easy to make excuses for why you shouldn’t apply to a certain job or find a list of reasons why company X would never pick you. Alternatively, you may be holding back because you think you have an offer underway from another company. Apply to any opportunity you could see yourself taking, and sometimes even ones you’re not confident you’d enjoy. When you’re looking for jobs early in your career, it’s easy to feel like you have to say yes to an offer, but it really is just an offer of employment – not a life sentence. If it doesn’t fit right with your life, you can make that decision when the time comes, but don’t take yourself out of the running.