New year, fresh start! If your resolution is to land a great job or internship, now is the perfect time to take action. And unlike some lofty goals that may fizzle by February, there are simple steps you can take now to see real results in your job search.
Here is your five step plan to fulfilling your job resolution in Handshake.
You signed up for Handshake—congratulations! You’re on your way to finding a great job or internship. To help you get started, we’ve outlined five steps to take during your first five days on Handshake. Read below for tips that will put you on track to landing your next opportunity.
Day 1: Fill out your profile
Don’t skip the most important step of getting started on Handshake—completing your profile. This is absolutely necessary to have success in finding a job or internship. The information in your profile helps you receive the most relevant job recommendations, and helps employers find you in their candidate searches.
Make sure to fill in your job interests including job type, cities, and roles that you want to explore. Don’t worry if you’re not quite sure what you want to do or where you want to be, you can update your profile at any time. Next, add your work experience, courses, organizations and skills. The more information you include in your profile, the better your chances are of hearing from recruiters.
Upload your resume so you’ll be ready to apply to jobs. If you’re applying for more than one type of role, consider modifying your resume for each one and uploading different versions.
Day 2: Explore jobs and save the ones you like
Once you’ve filled out your profile, you’ll receive personalized job recommendations based on this information. And as you add interests and update your profile, your recommendations will update as well—helping you find the right jobs for you.
As you’re viewing your recommended jobs on Handshake, save the ones that catch your eye. This will store them on your dashboard and in the Saved tab on the job search page—helping you quickly find them when you’re ready to apply. You’ll receive important notifications about saved jobs, including reminders to apply before the deadline.
Saving jobs also shows Handshake what you’re looking for, so your job recommendations become even more relevant. To save a job, click the bookmark icon located on the right side of the job preview or on the left hand side of the job page.
Day 3: See who’s hiring and follow employers
The employers you see on Handshake want to hire students at your school. And with top employers in every field, you’ll be able to find organizations you want to work for. When you see an employer you like, be sure to follow them by clicking the Follow button on their page—or the star button if you’re on the app.
You’ll receive alerts when the employers you follow post new jobs and events on Handshake. Plus, following employers helps improve your job recommendations.
Day 4: Register for a virtual recruiting event
Virtual recruiting events are taking center stage this year, giving you an opportunity to meet employers through your device. Employers will be hosting sessions with students at your school to recruit for open jobs and internships. This is also a good reason to follow employers you’re interested in—because you’ll be notified when they’re attending virtual fairs on Handshake. Also be sure to check your email and log in often to see upcoming events for students at your school.
Virtual fairs on Handshake are unlike the traditional career fair you may be familiar with. When you register for a virtual fair, you’re able to sign up early for sessions with the employers you want to meet. So forget the lines and register for virtual recruiting events!
Day 5: Apply to your first job or internship
Spend some time today going through your saved jobs and new recommendations, and start applying! Because you’ve filled out your profile and uploaded your resume, you’ll be able to apply to many jobs on Handshake in just a few clicks. We recommend keeping an open mind and applying to as many jobs as you’d like, especially if you’re interested in more than one field. It’ll increase your chances of finding a great job and help you explore potential careers.
Every student I have advised over the years has presented a unique set a questions pertaining to the job search. But, there’s one topic that seems to confound even the most seasoned applicant: cover letters.
A significant number of applications require a cover letter, yet there’s so much anxiety around how to craft one. In fact, students will admit that they simply won’t apply to any position that asks to see one. Just think of all the missed opportunities.
The main reason cover letters seem so daunting is because they should be tailored to each position. Unlike a resume—which you might tweak here or there for individual applications—your cover letter should be very specific to each job, as employers use it to get a greater sense of why you’re passionate about their company specifically and the role they’re hiring for.
The process of crafting a new cover letter for each application can seem tedious or time consuming, but there are a few tips you can take advantage of to make this process easier while also meeting the expectations of your potential future employer.
Unless an employer asks you to format your cover letter in a very specific way, the structure of your letter can remain the same for 95% of the positions you apply for. Think of structuring your cover letter as you might structure a paper for class: one introductory paragraph, two or three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph.
Your introduction and conclusion will stay fairly consistent across the board. The introduction should include the specific position title and company you’re applying to, and the conclusion should restate your enthusiasm for the position and highlight your contact information. You might want to make little tweaks, particularly in the introduction, such as highlighting how you found the position and clarifying why you’re interested right off the bat, but these are easy updates that shouldn’t take too much time to complete.
The body paragraphs are where you want to make the most changes for each position you apply to. Use language from the job description—often referred to as “buzz words”—and incorporate them throughout your cover letter. The biggest mistake applicants make in their cover letters is simply rehashing content that’s already on the resume, when the focus should be on highlighting how the skills from your resume specifically relate to the position you’re applying to.
A smart way to begin a body paragraph is some variation of the following:
“In reviewing the job description, I understand that this position requires an applicant with skills in _____, _____, and ______.”
Fill in the blanks with buzz words from the job description that you are a match with. Doing so will let the employer know right off the bat that you understand a few of the key components of the role. This will also help highlight how your past experiences directly relate to the requirements of the position.
More good news: you can use a variation of the sentence above in each of your cover letters, and simply fill-in-the-blanks with buzz words that are unique to each specific position you apply to. This is a great way to personalize each of your cover letters without having to completely rewrite each one.
While it’s always a good idea to research a company before applying, it can be especially helpful in gaining additional insight that you can incorporate into a cover letter. Information that might not be evident in a job description—such as a company’s mission, values, goals, client base, and office culture—can often be found by reviewing the company’s website. If, for example, you find that your career values are a direct match with an individual company, mention this in your cover letter. This is a smart way to highlight that you would be a great fit beyond your skill set, and employers will appreciate that you went above and beyond the job description to learn more about them.
The company website can also come in handy in the absence of “buzz words.” Some job descriptions you come across may be slim and not provide enough information about the responsibilities and qualifications needed. If the position description is bare, focus on what you learned from the company website to personalize your cover letter.
Take a look at some cover letter templates curated by the Career Center’s Peer Advising Team. This packet includes cover letter samples, as well as samples of other job search letters such as thank you notes. Once you’ve drafted a cover letter, bring it to the Career Center for a walk-in advising appointment to get it touched up before sending it off to employers!