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

September 28, 2020

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 degree, graduation date, and interests (job type, cities, roles). And you can highlight all of the things that make you uniquely qualified including your courses, organisations, 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 with the information included in your profile. Upload and save your CV to your Handshake account so it’s ready when you’re applying to jobs. You can upload more than one version of your CV—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 University, 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 University 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 organisation 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 Lecturers 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 organisation.

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 organisations 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 University. 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!

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 memorise exactly what you’ll say, it’s very important to get more comfortable answering interview questions.

Chat with your careers centre

Your University's careers centre staff are an incredible resource, so take advantage of their knowledge. They can answer your job and internship questions, help you craft your CV and cover letters, or even practice for virtual interviews. They also have insight on employers that are hiring at your University and those that may have strong alumni networks. Call your careers centre 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 CVs 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 Ps: be proactive, prompt and polite. For interviews, whether speculative 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!