How to Get an Internship or Job When Hiring is All Virtual

Learn how to navigate virtual recruitment and stand out to employers online.

Guidance Provided By: The Handshake Team

Recruiting season may look different this year, but luckily thousands of employers are searching for students on Handshake. So, how can you be ready to land your next job or internship virtually this year? Follow these steps to make the most of your online job hunt. 

Complete your Handshake profile

This is always our first piece of advice for student job seekers, because your profile is fundamental to getting hired on Handshake. Employers are searching for students to recruit based on the information in their profiles such as major, graduation date, and interests (job type, cities, roles). And you can highlight all of the things that make you uniquely qualified including your courses, organizations, work experience and skills. When you complete your profile, you’ll be more likely to receive direct messages from employers inviting you to events or to apply for jobs.

The next step is crafting your resume with the information included in your profile. Upload and save your resume to your Handshake account so it’s ready when you’re applying to jobs. You can upload more than one version of your resume—so consider adapting it for different roles that you want to apply for.

Start networking online

You’ve probably heard that networking is important, and it can sound a bit intimidating. But “networking” really just means making a connection with someone from your school, extracurriculars, volunteer groups—or just reaching out to someone you don’t know who shares the same professional interests. There are many different ways to start networking online. 

Find alumni of your school on Handshake who have or had roles that you’re interested in and send them a message. Introduce yourself and tell them you’d like to learn more about their experience. Ask them a question you have about their organization or how they began their career. And don’t forget to thank them in advance for connecting and sharing their advice.

Try looking for online professional interest groups to make connections with people in the fields that you’re exploring. It may take some research; you can also reach out to your professors or club leaders for their suggestions.

Stay up-to date on employers 

When you see an employer on Handshake that you like, click the Follow button on their page. If you’re on the Handshake app, click the star button. Following employers on Handshake is so useful because you’ll receive email alerts when they post new jobs and events. Plus, it helps improve your job recommendations. The more you explore and follow employers you’d like to work for, the more relevant your recommendations become.

Additionally, you can set search engine alerts for your top employers and follow their social media accounts. These are easy ways to learn about new initiatives, jobs, and other notable updates on their organization. 

Attend virtual recruiting events

One of the biggest opportunities to connect with employers this year is at virtual events on Handshake. Employers are hosting group and 1:1 sessions to give students a look at their organizations and to recruit for open jobs and internships. Be sure to check your email for event announcements and log in often to see upcoming events for students at your school. You’ll also be notified when employers you follow are attending virtual fairs on Handshake. 

When you register for a virtual fair, you can sign up early for sessions with the employers you want to meet and learn more about—a major advantage over traditional career fairs. Don’t miss these prime recruiting opportunities! 

Read our guide to virtual events, with tips and tricks to know before you attend.

Practice for virtual interviews

Just like in-person interviews, it takes some practice to get comfortable with virtual interviews. This is the time to call in some reinforcements. Ask a friend or family member to help you practice. Start with your “elevator pitch”—a brief introduction about you, your background and career goals. Then have them ask you a few common interview questions and ask them for any feedback on your answers. While you don’t need to memorize exactly what you’ll say, it’s very important to get more comfortable answering interview questions. 

Check out our post with more ways to impress employers during a virtual interview.

Chat with your career center

Your school’s career center staff are an incredible resource, so take advantage of their knowledge. They can answer your job and internship questions, help you craft your resume and cover letters, or even practice for virtual interviews. They also have insight on employers that are hiring at your school and those that may have strong alumni networks. Call your career center and schedule an appointment—they’ll be happy to help you. 

Apply apply apply

You can’t get a job if you don’t apply, right? It may go without saying, but you’ll greatly increase your chances of getting hired if you apply to a lot of open jobs. And try to keep an open mind, especially if you’re not quite sure what you want to do. Now is the time to gain different experiences and learn what you do and don’t like about a job. 

Luckily Handshake will surface recommendations based on your profile, to help you find the jobs you want to apply for. Once you have your profile filled in and resumes uploaded, you’ll be able to apply to many jobs on Handshake in just a few clicks.

Be proactive and follow up

No matter where your job search takes you, be consistent and follow up. Whether it’s a message from an employer, an application, virtual event or interview—always consider three p’s: be proactive, prompt and polite. For interviews, whether informational or for an open job, it’s best practice to send a thank you note within 24 hours. In your thank you note, share something specific that you enjoyed learning or talking about, and reiterate your interest in the job, career path, etc. 

If you discussed an open job or internship with an employer during a virtual event, make sure to apply as soon as possible. If the employers shared their contact information with you, send them a note thanking them and letting them know you’ve applied.

Your online actions are especially important when recruiting is virtual. If you can’t make a great impression in person, it’s best to be extra responsive and appreciative to the connections you make online. 

Log into Handshake now to get started on your virtual job search!

How to Keep Track of Job Applications

When in job search mode, you may find yourself applying to 20+ jobs per week. After a short amount of time, it’s incredibly easy to lose track of who you applied with and when. When I ask students how they’re keeping track of their applications, the most typical response is that they have all of their sent emails saved. But that system can be incredibly unwieldy. It’s difficult to sort through and hard to extract relevant info quickly.

There are plenty of tools that you can use to keep track of your applications. JibberJobber allows you to keep track of network contacts, job applications and target companies all in one handy place. While it’s a nice, comprehensive tool, the downside is that it’s not free.

There are many free apps that will allow you to track your applications as well. Indeed’s app acts as an extension of its desktop platform so if you have already been using Indeed in your job search, it can be easier to navigate. Websites like Monster and CareerBuilder have their own internal tracking systems for all of your applications. DePaul’s own Handshake platform also has an easily managed application-tracking tool.

The problem with all of these systems is that you probably won’t be using just one website or app to apply to all of the available jobs out there. So, rather than having to constantly juggle between three or more application tracking systems, your best bet may be to just create your own.

The simplest way to do this is to make a spreadsheet using a tool like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. You can keep all of your application tracking in one place and modify it however you like. One potential way to set things up can be seen in the image below:

An organized spreadsheet will allow you to easily sort through jobs you’ve applied to and quickly extract whatever relevant info you may need. You can include columns for company name, position applied to, a link to the job post, date applied, contact name/phone/email, and date of follow up. You can include columns for notes, feedback received and status of the opening as well. You can even color code to demarcate things like which jobs you’re currently interviewing for, which jobs are closed, and which you are waiting to hear back from.

You’ll want to have something that’s easily sortable, because you don’t want to be scrambling to find out the details on a job when an employer contacts you. For example, if a company gave you a call to set up an interview two months after you initially applied to their position, you don’t want to have to muddle through old emails looking for your application. A sortable spreadsheet will also help you stay on top of when you need to follow up with a company and ensure that you aren’t applying to the same position or company multiple times. With a spreadsheet, you can quickly scan for the information you’re looking for, and develop a better plan of attack in your job search.


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Doyle, A. 10 Easy Ways to Organize Your Job Search.

Hu, J. 7 Tips to Keep Your Job Applications Organized.