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Unlock Your Job Search Potential: LinkedIn & Handshake

ALL college students seek a job at some point, and many also seek an internship during college. While there are many important facets of preparing for a job or internship search, I am focusing today on two online platforms that every college student should know about and, in my opinion, use to aid their search: LinkedIn and Handshake.

LinkedIn and Handshake are online platforms that allow users to build profiles with several sections, including education, work experiences, skills, interests, and a photo.

While three can be a crowd, I argue that three's company in this case. Students should utilize both LinkedIn and Handshake, as they each have solid ways to support a college student's job or internship search. This post will discuss each platform, what it is, and the most important features to maximize its potential to help students achieve their goals.

LinkedIn and Handshake CEO and founder Garrett Lord told Forbes Magazine, "LinkedIn is focused on your past, and Handshake's focused on your future". This sums up why these two platforms work well together to support the college student's job or internship search.


LinkedIn: Your Key to the Professional World

There are three key reasons to use LinkedIn: employers use it to learn about candidates, the robust job database, and to build a professional network. How people use LinkedIn varies widely. The first 3 things you need to do to get started are:

  • Create a compelling headline - LinkedIn headlines appear right below your name and are the first thing people will read about you, so it's important to have a strong one. Headlines can take a number of different shapes: some use their objective on their resume, while others give a more casual summary of their interests. Note: the max for your headline is 220 words so use this precious real estate wisely. I like the examples in this Academia Insider article.

  • Personalize your URL - Newsflash: the original URL you have for your LinkedIn profile can be changed to whatever you want (that's not already being used of course). Because you should provide your LinkedIn profile URL on your resume (FYI), personalizing your URL is essential.

  • Complete your profile - If you want to meet someone to date online, you fill out your profile as completely as possible, right? Same thing here. You want employers to be able to quickly get a sense of who you are. Be sure to have a professional-looking photo and fill out as many of the sections as you can.

There is so much students can do with LinkedIn, and this is just a starting point. Here is a fabulous LinkedIn Tutorial for Beginners video on YouTube to continue building an effective LinkedIn profile.

Handshake: A Job Search Platform for College Students

Most people have heard of LinkedIn, but Handshake is a lesser-known (and fast-growing) platform that many colleges and universities have partnered with to help their students find jobs.

Handshake functions as a sort of matchmaker, bringing together students, employers, and over 1400 higher education institutions (typically career services offices) to "facilitate introductions and the building of relationships and unlocking of social capital," according to Michael B. Horn of Forbes Magazine. Handshake accomplishes this through numerous virtual career fairs, video chats, and more.

Through Handshake, students can:

  • Search for jobs (on or off campus) and internships

  • Register for career fairs (in person and online) and events

  • Research employers

  • Network with peers

  • Schedule career coaching appointments (if your institution does this)

Okay, so now that you know more about Handshake, here are three action steps to get started:

Step 1: Contact your college/university's career services office to find out if they use Handshake. Assuming they do, move on to the rest of the steps below:

Step 2: When you first create a Handshake account, you will be asked several questions about your goals for being on Handshake, interests, etc. Be sure to answer these - don't skip them! Handshake's algorithm will use your responses to make sure you see the jobs and internships most relevant to you. NOTE: You can and SHOULD update this information as your needs evolve so you continue to see the most relevant job recommendations.

Step 3: Understand how Handshake works: Handshake considers three primary buckets of information to develop job recommendations.

  1. The student’s profile data

  2. The student’s career interests

  3. The employers and jobs the student engages with

The bottom line: make sure your information is correct and stays updated. Actively engage with employers and jobs you're interested in. Handshake is a "you get what you put in" platform, so the more you use it, the more it will help you in your job search.

Feeling Motivated to Start Your Job Search Now?

You've learned the basics of LinkedIn and Handshake, two powerful online platforms to help you find the job or internship of your dreams. Now, it's time to take action!

Set a goal this week to focus on one of these two platforms, and then do the other the next week. By New Year's Day, you can have your LinkedIn and Handshake profiles in great shape to start looking for opportunities as 2024 starts.

If you want additional support for your job or internship search, please book a free consultation so we can chat and see if I might be a good fit to support your journey.


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