If you are a college student or recent graduate on the hunt for a job or internship, the prospect of actually landing a position may seem daunting. Most positions end up receiving a huge number of applicants and it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. Luckily, a career community called Handshake is making that process easier for applicants.
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How does Handshake work?
Students with a .edu email address can sign up for Handshake and join their college’s community to be matched with a wide range of job opportunities. Some of these jobs will be set aside specifically for students and alumni of your specific school, or schools in your region. Others will be more general job postings that Handshake deems relevant to your interests and skills.
In some ways, Handshake is similar to its rival job search engines. You’ll fill out a profile, have the opportunity to apply to jobs, and sometimes, be recruited by specific agencies. But there is an important distinction that makes Handshake stand out. Unlike general search engines such as Indeed or ZipRecruiter, Handshake specializes in opportunities that have a specific connection to your school.
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An increasing number of colleges and universities have begun investing heavily in their partnership with Handshake by cultivating a network of alumni on the platform. This means that many of the opportunities you’ll see are at companies whose leadership graduated from your school. Especially to students without much work experience, this “in” can be a great way to land your first position.
Let’s say that you end up with an interview at a company that was started by someone who graduated from your college. They chose that college for a reason, and most likely found it to be a rigorous and strong education. So, this lends them confidence that you have benefitted from your education and will be able to apply your skills in the workplace. This is a huge leg-up in the hiring process.
Does Handshake cost money?
Handshake does not cost any money for students and job applicants. Unlike other job boards, there is no premium option at Handshake, so you won’t be prioritized below paid subscribers.
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Who does Handshake work best for?
Handshake works best for students whose schools have taken an active interest in the program. As we’ve mentioned earlier, the greatest benefit of Handshake is the job postings by alumni from your school. But typically, the alumni will not seek out Handshake themselves to recruit new employees.
Instead, the alumni network and career development offices at your school have to seek out graduates and include information about Handshake in newsletters and other communications. This spreads knowledge about the platform, and when it comes time to hire, your school’s alumni will post their opportunities on the board.
Handshake also works particularly well for students at schools with a great sense of school pride. Having a strong alumni network relies on a great amount of shared experience; when an alumni views their college experience as a great part of their identity, they are more likely to recruit workers from that school. So, students at residential campuses are typically going to find a more active alumni network than those who went to commuter schools.
Creating an effective profile
When starting off with Handshake, you’ll be asked to input some information about yourself. This includes:
- Race and ethnicity
- Graduation date
- Whether you are looking for a job or internship
- In what fields you are interested in working
- Where you’d be open to work
- Past experience
- Relevant coursework to your desired position
- What skills do you bring to the table?
It’s important to put some thought into these answers. Not only will employers see this information when you apply to opportunities through the app, they’ll also use the data to recruit you. Try to paint a holistic picture of yourself and your interests. If you were a biology major and art minor, make sure to emphasize this combination to show your unique skill set.
Profile vs. resume
Remember, your employer will see your profile in conjunction with your resume. But if you apply through the app, chances are that they’ll see your Handshake profile before your resume. Some employers may use this information as the first round of elimination. Make sure that you put just as much thought into your profile as into your resume.
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Handshake vs. LinkedIn
Handshake and LinkedIn are two popular sites for professional development, and you might be wondering which you should use. The short answer is you should use them both! Each serves a different purpose, and when you apply to jobs on Handshake, you may even be asked to include your LinkedIn profile in your application. So, make sure to put some thought into your LinkedIn as well as your Handshake profile.
To help you understand what each can be used for, here are a few of the differences between the apps:
- Handshake consists largely of opportunities tailored towards current college students and recent grads
- LinkedIn is more useful for communication and receiving advice from experts in your field and alumni
- Handshake works best for finding and applying to jobs and interviews
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Alternatives for finding a job
It goes without saying that Handshake is not the only option out there for finding a job. There are many job search platforms out there, and each has a slightly different focus. Indeed and ZipRecruiter are two of the most famous, but there are many more. You can apply to job opportunities directly through LinkedIn, which offers suggestions tailored to your network.
Perhaps one of the closest competitors to Handshake is a website called WayUp. Like Handshake, WayUp is a job and internship search platform that tailors itself specifically to college students and recent graduates. You’ll find great opportunities suited specifically to your interests and the place you’re at in your career. So, especially if your school has not invested heavily in a Handshake network, don’t forget to try out WayUp.
- If your university supports it, Handshake is a highly effective, free job search tool
- Its primary advantage over other job-search platforms such as Indeed and ZipRecruiter is its alumni network
- Students utilizing Handshake should make sure to fill out their profile thoroughly to ensure that they are matched with all of the best opportunities
- Handshake is a complement, but not a substitute, to other job search platforms. For best results, you should use them together
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