Look on any job board site and what do you see? A long list of openings that require two or more years of experience in the industry in order to be considered for the position. Even entry-level jobs require some form of experience to qualify. Unfortunately, we’re seeing many college graduates come out of school with a degree, but little to no relevant work experience.

The odds are already stacked up against college graduates upon graduation. Earlier this year, CNBC published an article entitled “Job Picture Looks Bleak for 2013 College Grads” by Mark Koba. In the article, Koba mentions a survey performed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). The survey found that businesses “plan to hire only 2.1 percent more college graduates from the class of 2013 than they did from the class of 2012.” This is a large drop from the estimate of 13 percent reported earlier this year.

Recruiting company Adecco performed a survey of over 500 hiring managers with similarly displeasing results. Of the managers surveyed, a whopping 66 percent felt that college graduates are not ready to join the workforce.

Even though these statistics are somewhat alarming, there are steps college students can take to look more attractive to prospective employers; and it all starts with your resume. Resumes are your introduction to a company, so you need to get it right. Approximately 54 percent of hiring managers don’t even consider applicants with weak resumes for an interview.

Don’t let a bare resume put you at the bottom of the list of applicants. Take a look at these five ways to boost your resume even if you’ve never had a job.

Related: LinkedIn for College Students — The Importance of a Professional Online Presence

Get Certifications

One of the most skipped-over portions of job applications is the “Certifications” box. Since a lot of people tend to get certifications as a part of their hiring process, it’s not something that college students think too much about outside of the IT field. However, getting certifications is a great way to stand out.

The type of certification you get will depend on the field you plan on working in. If you’re interested in marketing, you might consider getting your Google Adwords Certification. If you plan on going into the creative field, you can become a Certified Personal Photographer or get certifications in the Adobe Creative Suite programs. For almost any industry you can think of, there is some form of certification for it.

Editor’s Note: Use HackCollege’s School Finder to search for certification programs in your area.

Start a Blog or Website

Robbie Williford recommends starting a personal blog to use as a networking tool. A blog can help give prospective employers insight into your personality, your growth, and your ability to communicate. The key to using a personal blog to boost your resume is to make it professional, high quality, and unique.

A blog filled with pictures of you and your friends getting wasted isn’t what employers want to see. Instead, post about any traveling you’ve done, helpful tips, and even news related to the industry you plan on working in after graduation. Just make sure your blog posts aren’t full of misspellings.

Related: Key Elements to Consider When Creating a Personal Website

Start Volunteering

There is no shortage of volunteer jobs today. If you can’t find an organization to volunteer for, you aren’t looking. One of the greatest things about volunteer work is it enables you to get experience doing a multitude of activities. Some organizations may need administrative help, others might need help organizing and marketing events. In many ways, volunteering can actually be more beneficial than unpaid internships that have you answering phones and getting coffee all day.

In order to find volunteer positions near you, search your local Craigslist under the “Community” section or you can visit sites like Idealist and VolunteerMatch to find positions you might be interested in.

Related: Network Through Volunteer Gigs to Expand Your Job Pool

Become a Freelancer

Who says you have to get a 9-5 in order to get work experience? If you have a skill that’s in demand, seek out your own clients and do some freelance work. Your freelance work might even turn into a full-fledged business over time.

Companies like people who have experience doing freelance work because it shows that you have initiative, entrepreneurship, and are capable of following through with responsibilities. Being a freelancer requires you to fill several seats. You have to market, track your finances, perform customer service, fulfill orders, and so much more. These are all skills that will directly affect your employability.

A large number of startups are seeking employees with an entrepreneur mindset to help grow their businesses rather than just to fulfill a single task. Being a freelancer gives you the exact type of experience startups want.

Related: 5 Tips for Aspiring Web Designers and Developers

Learn In-Demand Skills

If you have a short work history, then you can help balance it out by developing skills that are currently in demand. Companies are using a variety of software to help manage different aspects of their business.

Knowing how to use popular tools like Salesforce, the Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, and others will help enhance your resume. But knowing the basics isn’t enough; these days, everyone knows how to use Microsoft Word, but not everyone can develop a high-quality database with Microsoft Access or create a spreadsheet complete with advanced formulas.

Today’s job market is extremely competitive with nearly 50% of all college grads underemployed or unemployed. You have to be better and more useful than the next candidate and be able to distinguish yourself from everyone else.

Related: Coding Bootcamp Could Land You a High-Paying Tech Job After Nine Weeks

Images (edited): Scott Kellum, SetoTheTech

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