Handshake is the app and job database that Illinois uses to connect students to employers. Handshake is structured around skills, not majors or departments, and it is designed to help connect you to employers based on your interests.
A few things that humanities majors should know about Handshake:
- This resource will be helpful to you, no matter where you are in your education, so take the time to log on and start checking it out, even if graduation feels a long way away.
- You don’t have to complete your profile to start using the site, but it’s a good idea. Employers use Handshake to seek out students, and they will be able to find you more easily if your information is online.
- If you’re looking for work experience while you’re on campus, you can find local part-time and summer opportunities by clicking “Jobs and Internships” and setting the filter to “part-time” with a location of Champaign, IL.
- If you’re NOT looking for a job or internship now, Handshake can help you with your career exploration. You can start learning about potential careers and companies by not only reading a lot of job ads, but also bringing to your reading the same critical and reflective eye that you bring to your academic work.
Some advice about completing your Handshake Profile:
- If you have a resume, you can upload the most recent and comprehensive version to Handshake to populate your profile. If you don’t have a resume, it can be helpful to create one as you fill out the profile, which automatically gives you a template for the kind of information to include.
- Resist the temptation to fill the “Description” text boxes with large chunks of prose. Most employers find bullet points more readable. If you compose this resume information in Word and then copy/paste to Handshake, the formatting will be a lot easier.
- In the right-hand side bar of the profile, you are urged to list your skills. Go ahead and do that—and use the bullet points in your “descriptions” to demonstrate where and how you’ve used those skills. For example, anyone who uses Snapchat can claim “social media” as a skill, for but your mention of that skill means a lot more if the description of your work for a student organization also says, “Posted at least 5/week to Instagram or Twitter to publicize events.”
- Take as much care in documenting your activities as you do your paid work experience. Service projects, leadership in student organizations, unpaid internships, and volunteer work can be an important part of your profile if they demonstrate the skills employers are looking for.
- Make full use of the “Projects” category for course-related research, substantial independent creative work, interesting collaborations with others, and the like. It all counts.
- If you’re a freshman or sophomore, a lot of the material you include in your Handshake profile may date from high school. That’s inevitable and okay, but be proactive in looking for ways to replace those items with college-level experience. By the time you’re a junior, all high school experience should be long gone from your resume and Handshake.
- Note that you also have the option of uploading a resume as a freestanding document and using it to apply for specific jobs through Handshake. An employer is always going to find a resume customized to their needs more relevant than your all-purpose profile. Your post-graduation job search strategy will involve many different ways of packaging your experience and reaching out to potential employers, so it’s good to be ready.