How to Get the Most from Handshake

Career Blog

Published: February 16, 2021 by Jillian Collins

If you read the first part of my interview with Carrie McKnight, SJSU graduate student career counselor, you’ll already know that Handshake is way more than a smaller version of  LinkedIn. That’s important because although you may be a student now, you’re going to be looking for a job sooner than you can imagine. In the meantime, you want to make the most of every SJSU career resource you can, including virtual career fairs, vetted position postings, and tools that curate your profile to boost your visibility.

Hello, Handshake!

Handshake isn’t just another LinkedIn. LinkedIn, as a platform, is for the wider net. Handshake focuses on you, with the vetted employers only looking for SJSU candidates. They’ve taken the time to post the jobs you see on the Handshake platform.

So, how do you make the most of this job and career resource? That was the question I posed to Carrie McKnight, the SJSU Career Center’s graduate student liaison and an expert at getting the most from this jobs platform. I’ve captured her advice in the following points.

Start with the Basics

  • Profile. Handshake focuses on what you’re studying and how you want to present that to employers. In that sense, you can use your profile not just as a resume – you can also use it like the e-Portfolio. There’s a place to list projects you’ve been involved with or done, quickly add organizations you work with, and add the courses you’ve completed (or are currently taking). I especially like this last feature because course work choices can become an important part of how you present yourself. I would approach it as a navigation tool: you can take personal inventory of what you’ve found interesting, how far you’ve gone, and discover neat ideas for profile enhancement!
  • An easy search (tool). When you search with Handshake, narrowing broad searches can be done within the range of your degree and what fields you can apply it to. There are the traditional filters (e.g., location, work type, etc.). But what makes Handshake different is you don’t have to waste time applying for a position only to find that they want someone who has held an MLIS for five years. Remember, you’re still on your journey. And the employers who work with SJSU post positions on Handshake with that in mind.

Explore and Connect

  • Events. Carrie talked about how great Handshake is for networking because SJSU hosts and helps run events though it. Think career fairs and workshops put on by SJSU Career Center staff, opportunities to meet recruiters, and exclusive sessions hosted by major companies looking for what you have to offer. The Handshake team also provides helpful workshops that focus on interviewing, professional development, and presentations. All of these events are opportunities to learn, as well as to make connections.
  • Community. Applying for jobs can sometimes be stressful, discouraging, and isolating. Addressing these issues, Handshake has a feature that enables you to post questions to all student users of Handshake. Since Handshake is a career search and development platform used by many universities, this means that you have a place to ask questions and receive answers and advice from your peers, many of whom have likely experienced what you’re going through or what questions you’re facing. From how to craft your profile to clarifying the wording of a position, Handshake’s Q&A feature will help you come up with solutions while also helping you feel less isolated. And maybe you can help someone out, too!

It’s pretty much a given among those searching for jobs that LinkedIn is the default job search platform. However, while LinkedIn has advantages in visibility, there’s also a sense of invisibility. Handshake solves that issue for you because it balances personal career search with tools that make that search easier.

Handshake is more than a job search engine. It’s your career cultivation center.

Quick Jot from Jillian

I’ll admit, the idea of yet another promotional platform is exhausting. On top of everything, monitoring and updating and revising and…well, anything placed on LinkedIn is exactly like Handshake, right?

Wrong! Handshake and LinkedIn have overlap in what they do, but Handshake gives you more control in how you do it. Make it known what you’re doing now for employers. Participate in professional development. It’s an investment in your action plan.

For me, the push to really put more effort into Handshake came from Carrie. I was missing out on career fairs. My Handshake profile has been pretty stagnant, but the more I work on it, or attend the virtual events, the more I can explore and gain in return. Carrie sold me on using Handshake not just as a job search tool, but also as a way to look at how much is out there with the events. 

And there is a lot out there. Gain traction with action; achieve your career goals with Handshake!

Additional Resources

Selected Career Opportunities

  • Book & Paper Conservator. Stanford University (Stanford, CA). Full-time. Apply on SimplyHired
  • Law Librarian – Research Analyst. Accufile, Inc. (United States). Temporary remote position, Full-time (12 weeks). Apply on LinkedIn

Mark Your Calendar!

ALASC Trivia Night: Book-to-Movie Adaptations hosted by ALASC

  • Date: Tuesday, February 23, 2021
  • Time: 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. (Pacific Time)
  • Location: Register here to attend this Zoom event

SLASC: The World of Wine Librarianship hosted by SLASC

  • Date: Monday, March 1, 2021
  • Time: 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. (Pacific Time)
  • Location: Register here to attend this Zoom event


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