Job Search Tips for 2021 Graduates

Be Distinctive

Right now, the job market is the hottest it’s been in recent years as companies are hiring following the COVID-19 pandemic, but that also means the competition is fierce right now.

Because many 2020 graduates had to put off their job hunt while companies went through closures and lay-offs, there are even more of your peers applying for the same jobs you are right now. That means your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile need to be polished and stand out. 

However, for the same reason, the competition is stiff in the current job market; the popularity of remote jobs and internships also opens up the ability for you to apply to opportunities across the country—and the world!

Be Open-minded

While job postings on Handshake are at a high, not all sectors are hiring equally. The top industries looking to hire new graduates were the pandemic’s big winners: tech, financial services, education, and professional services, according to Handshake data. It’s essential to be flexible in your job search at a time like this and think about what skills you could bring to a role as well as what skills you could gain, even if the job isn’t exactly your dream role. 

Settling for what is available doesn’t have to be a bad thing either! While working in your not-dream-job, you can spend that time also taking classes and getting additional certifications, attending webinars and events, and upskilling.

Be Prepared

Having classes, meetings, and hangouts over video chat platforms like Zoom has become commonplace in the past year, but it’s still important to treat virtual interviews the same way you would an in-person one. Make sure to dress professionally, prepare for any questions they may ask, know how to work the features of the platform being used for the interview, and that your setup is well-lit without any distractions in the background.

Some workplaces have also started requesting pre-recorded video interviews in which you answer a list of questions they have provided. Though this type of interview is not live, there is still not much time between receiving the questions and the deadline for sending the video, so it’s still important to prepare in advance.

If you’re nervous, ask a friend or family member to take you through a mock interview, or schedule an advising appointment, or drop in with a peer coach!

Be Creative

You should also be ready to explain how you spent 2020, especially if your summer internship disappeared because of the pandemic and a gap in your resume. Did you do any freelance work? What about personal projects? Did you take any new classes in your free time? Did you volunteer anywhere? You can also highlight any new hobbies you picked up to show you’re willing to and capable of learning new things.

You may have skills you never even thought about that you can highlight, including soft skills!

And if you are still looking for ways to add to your resume, there are plenty of ways to gain experience outside of a traditional internship.

Be Authentic

While your network is a valuable resource in job hunting, it’s also a great space for building relationships with peers in your industry. Not every contact in your network will be in the position to give you a job when you need one, but it’s still essential to maintain and build relationships without expecting a transaction. Professionals in your industry — especially DePaul alumni — can give you helpful advice and share their experiences.

Consider setting up an informational interview with someone in your field or bringing up the possibility of job shadowing at a company you’re interested in or with someone whose role is appealing to you. Check out the ASK Network to connect with alumni.

And don’t forget to give back when you can and open yourself up to meeting with students as a professional in your field, or pass on opportunities you come across to your peers if it’s not something right for you!

More information:

How to Make a Good Impression in a Virtual Job Interview

Follow this guide to prep and perfect your video interview skills.

Guidance Provided By: The Handshake Team

There’s no question that for many job-seekers, interviewing is the most intimidating part of the process. But what if you could do it from the comfort of home? For many employers, virtual interviewing is the future—whether you live far away or need to interview remotely for another reason, video conferencing is an easy fix that many companies utilize when meeting candidates “face to face.” 

While video interviewing doesn’t allow for some tried-and-true methods for making a good impression, like giving a firm handshake, there are many ways to wow your potential boss from behind a screen. Simply follow this guide to prep and perfect your video interview skills. 

Prepare in advance 

Be sure to do your research on the employer ahead of time! Log into Handshake and check out their profile, read reviews from peers who’ve worked or interned there, and scope out recent news coverage of the organization for developments. The better equipped you are to ask thoughtful questions, the smoother your conversation will go throughout the interview.

Also use this time to review your resume and the job description, and consider how your past experience might help you exceed in the role. Having this information fresh in your mind will help you feel more confident during the video call.

Show up on time 

This is one of the easiest ways to start things off on the right foot: show up on time! While you don’t need to log on 15-minutes early like you would when arriving for an in-office interview, definitely enter the video chat promptly at the set start time. To ensure that everything goes smoothly, make sure that you’ve got the correct software loaded (if necessary), and consider a test call with a trusted friend to work out any kinks in your connection.  

Dress for success, even remotely

Make sure that you look polished and professional — at least up top. (The beauty of video calls is that nobody will know if you wear sweatpants with your Oxford shirt and tie!) Consider a button-up shirt or blouse, and be sure to groom just as thoughtfully as you would for an in-person meeting. Not only will this help you make a great impression with your interviewer, but wearing clothes that make you feel confident will also help you get your head in the game!

Think about your background

You probably wouldn’t invite your future boss over to your house if it were strewn with socks, right? So don’t let them see that on video! Find a clean, quiet area of your living space where you can take the call. Be sure to speak with any housemates in advance to ensure that nobody will walk behind you or make loud noises while you’re in the middle of discussing your professional strengths and weaknesses.    

Make “eye contact” with the camera

If it helps, consider putting some googly eyes next to your webcam to remind you to look directly at it throughout the call. This gives the appearance of making eye contact, not distractedly staring at your screen! Making eye contact, even if through a laptop, helps foster a sense of genuine connection and attentiveness; it can make all the difference when trying to hit it off with your interviewer. 

Stay focused and visibly engaged 

One way to show your interviewer that you’re motivated and engaged is by practicing active listening. Consider nodding your head to give affirmations of understanding while they talk, and asking clarifying questions when necessary. Also, take hand-written notes! Keep a notebook nearby so that you can jot down questions or key takeaways from the interview without having to disrupt the flow of the conversation with loud typing.

Don’t rely on a cheat sheet, but be prepared

If relevant, be prepared to share your portfolio or examples of work to your interviewer; keep some tabs at the ready and offer to share your screen if the topic comes up. Also, come to the interview with questions that you’d like to ask your interviewer. This shows initiative and genuine interest. (You can find some good examples for interview questions here.)

Remember to stay responsive after you wave goodbye

After you end your call, be sure not to “ghost” your interviewer. Download the Handshake app to ensure that you respond to recruiter messages promptly, and check your email at least twice per day to stay abreast of any outreach or next steps that might land in your inbox!

With these tips in your back pocket, you’ll have all the keys to succeed in your video interview. Now all you have to do is find the right opportunity! Check out this helpful advice for finding a job or internship online, and discover ways to make the most of a remote internship once you’ve got an offer. 

How to Prepare Questions for the Winter Career Fair, With Examples

Tips for developing questions that will help you learn more about employers.

Guidance Provided By: The Handshake Team

Attending DePaul’s upcoming virtual Winter Career Fair (Feb 24) on Handshake will help you get an internship or job as employers focus on hiring students virtually. Virtual career fairs sessions are a great opportunity for you to connect with and learn more about the organizations hiring DePaul students. But how can you stand out to employers and make a great impression? One way is by showing up prepared and having thoughtful questions to ask. Here are some tips for prepping questions, and some examples to help get you started.

Learn about the employer

The first step is to do some research on the employer. Start by reading through their Handshake page, where you’ll get an overview of the organization, see student reviews, and check out the open jobs and internships. Then go through their company website and do an online search for recent news articles, press releases and other relevant information. 

Spending some time before the session to learn more will pay off because it shows the employer your interest in their organization and in getting a job. It’ll also keep you from asking something that is easily found on their Handshake page or website. If you go the extra mile and demonstrate that you’re informed, the employer ambassador will definitely be impressed!

Create a list of questions

Now that you have more information, you can start writing your list of questions. Take time to think about what interests you the most about this employer. What do you want to learn more about? What qualities are important to you in a potential employer? What will help you decide if they are a good fit for you? 

Make a list of your priorities and then fill in questions for each. It’s a good idea to have several questions for each session, in case some are answered by the employer before you have a chance to ask them.

When to ask a question

There are group and one-on-one sessions during virtual career fairs. If you’re attending a group session, make sure to wait for the host to announce that it’s time for questions. Depending on the session, you may have an opportunity to ask your question on video or type it into the chat. One-on-one sessions are an open conversation with the employer, so you should feel free to ask questions as you go. 

Examples of questions

Here are a few examples of questions you can ask during virtual sessions. These are inspiration to help you get started. It’s important to tailor your questions depending on the type of session and your unique interests. 

General employer questions

  • How would you describe the culture of the organization?
  • What is the office environment like? Is it formal or more casual?
  • How does leadership promote diversity and inclusion within the organization? 
  • What support, initiatives, and/or training around diversity and inclusion are available to employees (i.e. employee resource groups, mentorship programs, leadership development)?
  • Are there professional development opportunities?
  • Does the organization encourage employees to pursue advanced degrees? 

Questions about a specific team or job

  • What does success look like in this role? On this team?
  • How would you describe this team? The manager?
  • What are the opportunities for growth in this role? On this team?
  • Do managers encourage innovation and creativity? 
  • How do managers measure success for employees/interns?

Questions for one-on-one sessions

  • What do you like most about working for [employer]?
  • Do you participate in employee resource/social groups?
  • What other teams do you work closely with?
  • What is the best part of your job?
For more tips, check out our guide to attending virtual career fairs.

How to Prepare Your Virtual Career Fair “Elevator Pitch”

Learn how to create the perfect elevator pitch ahead of your next career fair – with examples!

Guidance Provided By: The Handshake Team

So, you’ve registered for the DePaul Winter virtual career fair. You’ve scoped out the attending employers, registered for a few group and 1:1 sessions, and you’re feeling excited about the connections you’re about to make. You’ve got your outfit picked out, you’ve chatted with your roommates about keeping quiet and avoiding distractions during the fair, and you’re hopeful that you’ll make a good impression and find the job or internship you’re dreaming about. So, what else can you do to prepare? It’s time to work on your elevator pitch.

One of the best things you can do ahead of any virtual event is to prepare a few talking points to succinctly make the case about why you’re a great candidate. The employers that you meet with want to learn more about you! So think of a short overview about your background, studies, and career goals. Practice with a friend or family member ahead of the virtual fair so you’re ready when it’s time to introduce yourself to a recruiter.

Ahead, read our tips for how to prepare an elevator pitch.

What is an elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch is essentially a short and sweet synopsis about yourself for a prospective employer. It’s called an elevator pitch because it’s meant to be brief enough to deliver convincingly during a quick elevator ride to your floor.

How long should my pitch be?

Think about the length of your average elevator ride. Not long, right? It’s a best practice to keep your elevator pitch to a minute or less! The key to an impactful elevator pitch is to stay short and sweet, avoid rambling, and prioritize truly pertinent information.

What should I include in my elevator pitch?

Focus on the skills and qualifications that’ll make you uniquely appealing to your audience. Give some top-level bullet points about what makes you an awesome candidate! 

  • Your field of study
  • A couple relevant skills or certifications
  • A nod to relevant experience 

Your elevator pitch should also touch on your professional goals: if you hope to find a job at a mission-driven startup, or want to relocate to Denver, or aim for a role where you’ll flex your coding skills, mention these. 

If you plan to meet with a few different types of employers during your career fair, don’t be afraid to tailor your pitch to different industries and roles. For example, your proficiency in Photoshop might not be relevant to a corporate sales role, but it is for marketing! Be aware of your audience. 

How to deliver an elevator pitch

When it comes to your elevator pitch, practice makes perfect. You might feel silly running through a 30-second spiel about yourself, but becoming confident in your delivery can make a huge difference when you’re face-to-face with a recruiter! Aim for your pitch to be brief, persuasive, and confident—not boastful. Ask a trusted friend or family member to run through your pitch with you a few times, give constructive feedback, and help you nail it! 

How should I wrap up after my pitch?

Typically, it’s a best practice to have a business card or a copy of your resume to hand to somebody after delivering your IRL elevator pitch during a career fair. However, since you’ll be meeting recruiters during virtual fairs, have a link to your Handshake profile handy to send via chat! If relevant, you can also share a digital portfolio during this time.

Elevator pitch examples:

  • “I’m Brinton and I just graduated DePaul University with a degree in English! I’ve worked as a freelance writer for lifestyle publications like Bustle for the past two years, and now I’m looking to grow as a full-time reporter in the entertainment, travel, or breaking news space. I’m proficient in Photoshop, certified in Google Analytics, and have experience managing social media channels for small businesses.”
  • “I’m Luke, and I’m a software engineer with a background working with high-growth e-commerce startups in the Chicago area. However, now I am looking for an opportunity that will bring me closer to my family and friends in Raleigh. I specialize in iOS and have four years of experience writing C++ code in a POSIX environment.”
  • “I’m Rey, and I’m a rising senior at DePaul University. I’m studying finance and spent last summer as an analyst for Goldman Sachs, where I focused mainly on comparative financial performance analysis. Now that I’m graduating in June, I’m hoping to find a full-time role as an investment banking analyst.”

Your 10 Biggest Virtual Career Fair Questions, Answered

Find answers to the most common questions about virtual recruiting events on Handshake.

Guidance Provided By: The Handshake Team

You may have heard that meeting employers at virtual career fairs will help you land a job or internship this year. But we know you also have some questions—from what to wear to what to ask. is coming up in two weeks, so we’ve gathered the ten most commonly asked questions from students and answered them below so that you can be ready for DePaul’s upcoming Virtual Winter Career Fair on Feb 24.

1. What’s the difference between a group session and a one-on-one session?

Group sessions are primarily for employers to share more about their organizations with students. There is usually a Q&A portion where you can ask the employer a question. One-on-one sessions are 10 minute conversations between you and an employer to discuss your background and experience, as well as current job and internship opportunities.

2. Do I need to sign up for sessions before the virtual career fair starts?

Yes! You should start signing up for sessions once you’ve registered for the fair. One of the biggest benefits of attending a virtual career fair is that you can secure your spot with the employers you want to meet. So it’s important to go through the fair schedule and sign up early for the sessions you want.

3. I don’t see any available sessions with the employers I’m interested in. What should I do?

If you don’t see available sessions, it may mean that the employer is in the process of setting up their sessions, or their current sessions are full. Be sure to check back on the fair schedule in the days and hours leading up to the fair to view newly added sessions. You can also connect with your career center and ask if they’re working with employers to open more session times. 

We also suggest having an open mind when deciding which employers to meet during virtual career fairs. Instead of focusing on the brand names you know, go through the full list of employers who are attending and view their Handshake pages to learn more. You may find a great match for you in an unlikely place.

4. Do I need to be on video?

Having your video on during sessions is optional. You may also communicate with employers through audio or chat features. For one-on-one sessions, we recommend turning your video on to help employers make a strong connection with you. 

For group sessions with more than 15 attendees, student video will not be enabled unless you are asking a question. To ask a question during a group session, click the hand icon on your screen to “raise your hand”. The host will be able to call on you and enable your video.

5. What should I wear if I’m on video? Do I need a suit?

You definitely want to dress to impress during virtual career fairs. But you don’t have to have the full head-to-toe ensemble (unless it makes you feel more confident, in which case go for it!)

You’ll want to look professional up top—that could mean wearing a collared shirt, dressy sweater, or similar top. Choose whatever makes you look pulled together and feel your best.

6. How do I share my resume with employers?

The easiest way to share your resume with employers is to upload it to your Handshake profile and make it visible. If you already have a resume, be sure to mark it as visible so that employers can view it. After you attend a virtual career fair, employers will have access to your resume when they download a list of participants from their sessions. 

Learn more about document visibility in this Handshake Help Center article.

For more information on uploading your resume, watch How to Upload a Document.

7. I don’t want to be late. How soon can I join a session?

You will be able to join a session 5 minutes before the scheduled start time.

8. What types of questions should I ask during a session?

Virtual sessions are an opportunity for you to learn about employers and decide which are a good fit for you. Think about what interests you most about the employer you’re meeting with. What do you want to learn more about? Is it company culture? Career growth opportunities? Make a list of your priorities and then fill in questions for each. 

Take a bit of time to research each employer before your sessions. This will help you come up with a list of questions. It will also show the employer that you’re informed and prepared—two qualities they like to see!

Check out their Handshake page for overview of the organization, student reviews, as well as open jobs and internships. Then head to their company website, and do a quick online search for recent news articles, press releases and other relevant information. This may help inspire your list of questions.

You can find more tips for preparing questions and sample questions here.

9. How should I introduce myself during a one-on-one session?

The employers you meet during one-on-one sessions want to learn more about you and see if you’re a good fit for their open jobs or internships. So it’s important to prepare a brief introduction about yourself, including your background, studies, and career goals. Then practice with a friend or family member ahead of the fair so you’re ready.

Find more tips for drafting your “elevator pitch” here.

10. Can I drop out of group sessions early or should I wait for them to end?

If you want to make a good impression with employers, you’ll want to stay for the entire session. You wouldn’t leave a one-on-one session early—so don’t disappear from a group session either. Employers have busy schedules just like you, and they’re taking valuable time to help you get to know their organization. Staying until the end of a session demonstrates that you’re responsible and respectful of their time.

For more tips and advice, check out our guide to attending virtual career fairs or visit the Handshake Help Center.

3 Essential Virtual Career Fair Tips from Employers

Read these employer tips before your next virtual recruitment event.

Guidance Provided By: The Handshake Team

Virtual career fairs on Handshake are one of the best ways for you to connect with employers that want to hire you. You can sign up early for DePaul’s Winter Career Fair to attend sessions with the employers you’re interested in, to learn about jobs and internships for students like you at your school. Group and one-on-one sessions will help you get an inside look at employers and find companies you’d like to work for.

But what are employers looking for during these sessions, and how can you stand out from the crowd? Here are three tips from employers that will help you impress them and get on their list of potential job candidates.

Be prepared and curious

Once you’ve filled up your schedule of virtual sessions, it’s important to research the employers you’ll be meeting with. Start by reading through their page on Handshake to get an overview of the organization and read student reviews. Then you can expand your research by looking at their company website, and doing a quick online search for recent news articles, press releases and other information. 

Have a short list of questions ready to ask employers during your sessions. What do you want to learn more about? What questions will help you decide if the company is a good fit for you? You can ask about company culture, professional development opportunities, mentorship programs, and more.

Make sure to check out the open jobs and internships on the employer’s Handshake page. They are looking for students to hire at virtual career fairs, so chances are they’ll want to discuss current opportunities with you during the session. 

Arrive on time and stick around

The easiest way to make a great first impression with employers is to be on time for your sessions. You can enter a video session five minutes before the session begins. It’s a good idea to set phone alerts or calendar reminders for your sessions, to ensure you’re logged into Handshake and ready to go.

It’s also really important that you stay for the entire session. If you have a one-on-one session with an employer, you wouldn’t dream of logging out early, right? Well, the same goes for any group session you’re attending.

Maybe the session isn’t quite what you thought you were signing up for, or all of your questions were answered early. Doesn’t matter—just like you, employers have busy schedules and their time is valuable. Being on time and staying until the end of a session demonstrates that you’re responsible and respectful.

Get ready to hit send on your follow-up

Prepare a draft of your follow-up message to an employer before you attend their session. That way, you’ll be a step ahead once the session is over. Start by thanking the employer ambassador for their time and for sharing information about the organization. Then, include something specific you enjoyed discussing or learning about, and reiterate your interest in the company. Finally, indicate that you’re taking next steps such as applying for an open job. 

If you have drafts ready before the fair, you can quickly edit and send them after your sessions—and be one of the first students to follow up. This will definitely help you stand out to employers!

Want more useful tips? Check out our guide to attending virtual career fairs.