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:

The Job Search Myths That Could Keep You From Getting Hired on Handshake

We’re setting the record straight to help you get the job you want.

Guidance Provided By: The Handshake Team

Handshake is here to help DePaul University students and graduates find great jobs and internships. And we want to clear a few things up! So we’ve collected some common misconceptions about your profile, employer events, applications, and more. Read below to learn the truth about your job search and how to really find the right job for you on Handshake.

It’s not that important to update my Handshake profile, because employers don’t look at it.

Completing and updating your profile may just be the most important thing you can do on Handshake to get hired! Employers who are hiring at your school are searching for candidates based on the information on their profiles: the roles they’re looking for, the cities they want to work in, the skills they have, etc. So it’s extremely important that you fill out all of your interests and experiences in your profile. This will help recruiters find you for the jobs that match what you’re looking for.

I can’t apply for a job if I don’t match the employer’s preferences.

When posting a job or internship, employers may select “preferences” or qualifications that they’re looking for in potential candidates. These preferences, like major, GPA or school year, will show up when you click on the details of a job posting, and Handshake will tell you which preferences match your profile. Think of them as a guide that can help you understand if you’re a good match for the job. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t apply for the job if you don’t match all of the preferences. If you’re interested in the job, you can definitely still apply. If there are other required documents, like a cover letter, as part of the application, that is where you can shine and tell the employer why you think you’re a great candidate.

It’s better to apply for a job on an employer’s website, instead of applying on Handshake.

While some job postings may take you to an external application, you can apply for many jobs right on Handshake in a few clicks. And rest assured that if an employer accepts applications on Handshake, recruiters are actively viewing those applications. But don’t take our word for it, check out just a few of the success stories from students who have been hired!

I don’t think the top employers are recruiting students in my major or at my school.

The main goal of Handshake is to connect students to the right job opportunities, no matter who they are or where they go to school. And that’s exactly why more than 500,000 incredible employers are hiring here—they can recruit from any corner of the country without leaving the office. 

And since Handshake is connected to DePaul University’s Career Center, all of the jobs you see are meant for DePaul students and graduates.

I’m in my first year of school, so I don’t need Handshake yet.

Even if you’re just starting out and not sure what you want to do yet, you can learn a lot about careers and employers on Handshake. You can find part-time and on-campus jobs, explore careers that students at your school and in your major pursue, read employer and internship reviews from other students and recent grads, and much more. Plus, it’s never too early to start looking for your first internship! There are opportunities for every student no matter your school year. 

If you’re a recent grad and don’t have your @depaul.edu email address, you can use a personal or generic email address to sign up for Handshake. After you sign up, someone from DePaul University Career Center will approve your account to get you set up. 

You can’t really make a connection with employers at virtual recruiting events.

Employers are changing the way they’re hiring students. Recruiting is now nearly all virtual, so virtual recruiting events are an essential way to learn about who’s hiring at your school and connect with companies that will want to hire you.

A major benefit of attending virtual events is that you don’t have to wait in line for a chance to talk to popular employers. When you register for a virtual recruiting event on Handshake, you sign up for session times with the employers you want to meet. These sessions will help you make a personal connection with employer ambassadors and learn about current job and internship opportunities.

There isn’t an easy way to share my resume with the employers I meet at virtual recruiting events.

Once you’ve created your resume, you can easily share your resume with employers by uploading it to your Handshake profile and making it visible. If you’ve previously uploaded your resume, double check that it’s marked 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 how to check your resume’s visibility.

Log into depaul.joinhandshake.com to put this new knowledge into practice and refresh your job search!

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 Make a Good Impression in a Virtual Job Interview