Growing up a child I learned how to get a successful job: graduate high school, go to college, and then pick and choose the best company making you an offer.

It was simple.

Or so I thought.

The unfortunate truth is that it is very hard to get a job when you are young. Even with a good college education, it’s hard to get your career off the ground.

Even though I had my first professional job before graduating college, after leaving college, it took me 3 years to get a good job. And I’m still far from where I want to be for the long-term. If you are looking to get your first real job or professional position, there are several things you need to know as a young adults searching for steady employment.

Young Adult Career

Be Realistic

You may feel like you are the best person ever and that every potential employer would hire you if they got to know you, but the reality is that you need a good track record.

Employers want to see a positive work history.

If you have none, don’t expect potential employers to just trust you. They want to eliminate the risk that they are taking so if they are considering hiring someone without any work experience, don’t expect much. Regardless of what position or role you want, don’t forget that everyone has to start somewhere.

Come Prepared

If you are invited for an interview, there isn’t much you can do to increase your odds. But you can do one thing.

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.

The best way to do this is research the organization and team you would be working with. The more information you can soak in before the interview, the better odds you will have of impressing the person holding the interview.

I’ve held a number of interviews and if there is one thing that I look for, it’s whether or not applicants have researched the company before the interview. It can only help your chances to get hired if you come prepared.

Emphasize Your Strengths

I often brag that I have received every job that I have interviewed for since I was 16. What I often don’t say is that I butchered my first job interview at the ripe age of 15. It was my first job interview so I thought I had to be as honest as possible.

Oh, how I was wrong.

While you should be honest in interviews, you need to emphasize your strengths. Don’t draw undue attention to your weaknesses or faults. If you are asked a question and can’t think of an answer, come up with something. No need to make something up, but explain that the question reminds you of this or that. It’s best to use every second to make yourself stand out.

While there are no guarantees that these tips will help you get a job, this is only the beginning. If you find yourself struggling to get your foot in the door, the other thing that you can do is to develop skills that will make you stand out. Today, companies are looking for people who can perform a number of different tasks. The more you can manage, the better your chances.

The bottom line is that it takes work to get your career off the ground. It’s not easy. You have to work at it. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your education will speak for itself.