So often, college students look at graduation like a finish line. At the beginning, that finish line seems so far away--and honestly, most aren't ready to cross it. However, after three, four, or sometimes even five years pass, the finish line approaches and it's all students can do not to sprint for the black and white checkered flag.

While graduating from college is a fantastic goal to set and accomplish, the reality is that it's not the end-all-be-all. Graduating from college can't be looked at as a finish line. Rather, it should be viewed like a checkpoint. After receiving your diploma comes the challenge of finding a job and launching your career.

Gaining Perspective

Recent college graduates should start their job search by being thankful. You should be thankful that you weren't a recent graduate five, six, or seven years ago. The job market was so horrendous that people were leaving four-year college degree programs from respected universities and couldn't find jobs for months on end. Keep that in perspective as you start your search.

Next, you have to remember where you stand on the corporate ladder. While you may feel like you're on top of the world with fresh ink on your resume and a new diploma in your hand, the reality is that you have to start from the bottom. The majority of people you're competing with for high-paying jobs also have diplomas. Many of them have work experience, too. Understand this and set your expectations accordingly. Be willing to take an entry-level job in order to work your way up.

4 Job Sites to Browse

Don't be mistaken--looking for a job is a full-time job in and of itself. It's not a task you can juggle between watching TV, napping, and hanging out with friends. If you're serious about landing a good job, you need to dedicate hours each day to the search. The good news is that the following sites have consolidated a lot of the information you need:

  1. LinkedIn

The first place to start is with LinkedIn. It's not a traditional job site, but it is the most valuable (when properly used). Hopefully you already have a profile. If not, now is the time to build one and perfect it for the job search.

According to Omar Garriott, director of product marketing at Salesforce.com, there are a handful of "must-dos" when tweaking a profile. Consider the following:

  • Photo. You have to have a profile photo--and this should go without saying, but it needs to be professional and appropriate. Garriott says profiles with images get 14-times more views than those without. Face forward, wear something professional, and make sure it's a solo-shot.
  • Profile headline. Every LinkedIn profile gets a small space to enter a headline. This is valuable real estate and is one of the few things a job recruiter sees before clicking on a profile. Make it specific and clever, but avoid lame clichs like "marketing guru" or "code ninja."
  • Relevant experience. There is ample space to include career experiences. For college students, the key is go for quality over quantity. If you're applying for jobs in the engineering field, does it really make sense to list that summer job in high school where you cut your neighbor's lawn? Probably not. Don't include irrelevant information for the sake of filling space.

Once your profile is acceptable, you can begin leveraging the power of LinkedIn to find job opportunities. All you have to do is click "Jobs" at the top of your homepage and then type a keyword, title, or company into the search box. You can filter by industry, location, and numerous other metrics.

Be patient, make introductions, continue building your network, and don't be surprised if LinkedIn connects you to a few opportunities. There will come a time when you have to take over the process on your own, but LinkedIn can give you a nice head start.

  1. Indeed

Indeed represents one of the single largest sources of job postings on the entire internet. The beauty of the site is that it's a job aggregator, meaning it draws postings from company websites, other job listing sites, jobs posted in niche industry websites, jobs posted in online classifieds, and other places.

As you'll immediately notice from the home page, Indeed is simple and streamlined. You simply enter a keyword, title, or company name that you're targeting, specify the location, and click the "Find Jobs" button. Once the results pop up, the site suddenly gets a little busier. (It'll look more like a search engine results page).

From this page, you can browse listings or further filter the results. You can change the geographical footprint, salary range, job type, and even choose whether you want to see results from employers and recruiters, or just one of the two.

You can also choose to upload your resume to the website, which allows employers and recruiters to find you. When they access Indeed, they then use a similar search engine that lets them search for potential hires based on skillsets, location, and career goals.

  1. StartJobs.net

StartJobs offers a seamless user experience by using a unique algorithm allowing users to find the perfect career fit within a certain radius. As with most other sites, you just enter in a keyword and location and the search engine delivers relevant results.

What's unique about StartJobs.net is that you can also search for jobs by university, which is specifically designed to help recent college graduates. You'll find this feature in the bottom left-hand corner of the homepage. Click on it and you'll see a growing list of universities and colleges. If your school is on the list, you can then find available jobs near the campus.

  1. CareerBuilder

CareerBuilder is very similar to Indeed and other job sites, but it's always good to have another resource at your fingertips. While the search functionality is basically the same as the competition, CareerBuilder sets itself apart with its "Recommendations" feature.

As the name suggest, this awesome feature recommends jobs based on past searches, keywords in your resume, and details about jobs you've applied for in the past. The more you search and apply, the more accurate the results are. This is helpful, as it's easy to get into a routine and miss out on certain opportunities you didn't realize were available.

Finding the Perfect Job

As a recent college graduate, you have to remember that the job search is the first major assignment in your career. Avoid being passive, but don't rush the process. The key is to spend time each day searching for jobs, making connections, and putting yourself in a position to succeed. The right job will eventually come along and all your hard work will pay off.

Just like college graduation, remember that landing a job is just a checkpoint to the rest of your career--it's not the finish line. You aren't making a commitment to work with this company for the rest of your life. Pick somewhere and start. Your career will take many turns before it's over, but it all starts with the first offer. Bookmark these four sites and you'll be sure to accelerate your search!