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Starting out with Handshake has never been made easier

(Photo courtesy of Linkedin.com) Handshake is a professional job search site with a focus on early career opportunities for students.

Timothy Delay
Connector Contributor

(the writer is currently interning with the Career and Co-op center at the university that manages Handshake) 

In the fast-paced social climate, networking and connecting with others is key to finding success in the professional world. As a result of the pandemic, more people are working from home and turning toward the internet for career opportunities than ever before, and these changes do not seem temporary.

Due to this cultural workplace shift, it is important for students to stay ahead of competitors and to utilize online networking tools that are created for them. Handshake is a professional job search site with a focus on early career opportunities for students.

“There are so many opportunities for students to explore different career paths, and finding those opportunities on Handshake is easy,” said Greg Denon, associate dean of Student Affairs for Career Development at UMass Lowell. Denon said he wants students who are unfamiliar with Handshake to take advantage of the platform.

Getting started with Handshake is easy and begins with creating your profile. One feature of Handshake that makes it so unique is its tailored algorithm that will show career opportunities relevant to you.

“We’ve had people describe Handshake as the Netflix for job searching,” Denon said. “Your profile helps you customize what it’s recommending to you, so it brings to light roles, events and positions that are based on your profile and your career interests.”

Not only will Handshake display career opportunities relevant to students’ majors, but it will also take your interests and skills into account as well. “Major doesn’t always equal career interest. The skills section is very important. It’s easy for employers to be able to filter on if they only need students who have a certain technical skill,” Denon said.

Students may be qualified or interested in a position relevant to them, but not necessarily exclusive to their major. Handshake encourages this kind of outside exploration in the career path section of the site. They can also browse listings by industry, role, location and more.

Handshake sets itself apart from other professional networking sites by having employers on the site reach out to students who appear to be suitable fits. This means that by just having a profile on Handshake, students are putting themselves out there for potential employers. On their profile, a user can showcase their work, volunteer experience, education and completed projects as well.

With the ability to upload documents, a student can essentially create an online portfolio for themselves. An English student can showcase a writing sample for a story they wrote, a graphic design student can put up an image that they created and an engineering student can put up a model of a part that they designed. Students of all types can utilize and benefit from the many features available on the site.

Handshake also has a large focus on its community and ease of access with the Q&A section of the site. Students can ask questions about what to expect at a certain company or position, what a company’s workplace culture is like, or anything else. A national network of alumni and students alike are waiting to provide answers and describe their own experience as well.

“You can have people answering that question that could be current employees at a company, they could be students who used to intern at that company, from another college or from UMass Lowell,” Denon said.  Unlike other websites with a question-and-answer page, Handshake allows students to inquiry further in regard to an answer that is given on the site. This is a great tool that allows students to make connections with people actually working in the fields or positions they are interested in.

Handshake will also be hosting all of UMass Lowell’s virtual career fairs. “It’s all being run through Handshake, so they’re all video-based career fairs. It provides students with a combination of choices to attend group sessions with the company, which might be more like an information session, or a public Q&A, as well as having one-on-one meetings with a company rep to get more personal with the connection or individualized with the connection,” Denon said.

Career fairs are a place for students to find potential career opportunities. While in-person career fairs are ideal, students can still benefit from learning about companies in a virtual setting. Virtual events also allow for companies based in other parts of the country, such as Tesla, to attend.

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