For college students, and especially adult learners balancing work and school, it’s never too soon to start planning for a post-graduation career. If you’re a student at the University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC), you don’t have to plan alone. While the University has long offered the assistance of a robust Career Services team, UAGC has implemented a new career management platform called Handshake, and it’s revolutionizing the way students are able to connect with prospective employers. Read on to learn what Handshake is, how to access the system, how to get the most out of the service, how to search for jobs, and much more.

What Is Handshake?  

Touting themselves as the “No. 1 way college students get hired,” Handshake is fully integrated within the UAGC Career Services division and serves as a matchmaking system between students and alumni and employers. Users can stay on top of the job market even if they’re not currently looking for a new opportunity.
Handshake gives users access to:

  • Job postings
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Networking opportunities
  • Hiring events
  • Job preparation tools
  • Discussion panels
  • Information sessions and webinars 

How to Access Handshake

If you are a UAGC student or alum, you can access Handshake 24/7 by following these steps:

  1. Log into the Global Campus Student Portal
  2. Click ‘Student Life’ in the lefthand navigation
  3. Click ‘Career Services’
  4. Click ‘Handshake’
  5. Log in by clicking the blue button

If at any time you need assistance completing the login steps, email [email protected].

Why Your Handshake Profile Matters

The most important feature of Handshake will be the first one you encounter: setting up your profile. A fully optimized profile will help you develop your network and make it easier for employers and recruiters to find you.

Your profile should have all relevant information, including:

  • Contact information
  • Prior work experience
  • Professional organizations you belong(ed) to
  • Interests and skills
  • Relevant college courses
  • Academic achievements 

How to Get the Most Out of Handshake

Like all career management tools, your best bet for success is to take advantage of all the resources available at UAGC. After completing your profile in Handshake, here’s how to get the most out of the experience.

1. Connect With Employers
Handshake connects you with tens of thousands of employers, many of which are UAGC partners and are actively looking through Handshake for ideal job candidates. Research these employers, and connect with recruiters or employees at these organizations to learn more about the opportunities and apply!

Further, you can attend bi-annual career fairs hosted by the UAGC Career Services team via Handshake. Because these career fairs are virtual, they give every student the chance to explore what’s available and see which employers could be the best fit for their career goals and academic background. You can sign up for a 10-minute one-on-one session via chat or video link, in which you will be able to pitch yourself to a recruiter or hiring manager for a specific job listed on Handshake. You can also attend a 30-minute group session with an employer, in which you will have the opportunity to learn more and ask questions about a company or job posting.

2. Connect With Career Advisors
Whether you have just entered school or graduated years ago, one of the greatest benefits of attending UAGC is having a Career Services team embedded within the school and available at your fingertips.

Through Handshake, you can schedule an appointment with a career advisor that’s tailored to your program of study. These 30-45 minute meetings will take place virtually and, dependent on the need, can cover multiple topics, including:

  • Resume optimization
  • Cover letter writing
  • Job search strategies
  • Interview preparation

Additionally, career advisors are adept at helping students understand their job prospects with regard to their majors. This will save you time as the focus remains on how your coursework and experience can translate into the roles best suited for you.

3. Network With New Contacts
Networking is one of the most important things you can do as a student and as a professional. As much as it’s about connecting with people who could point you toward a job opportunity, networking strengthens your communication and relationship building skills, while keeping you engaged in your field of interest. 

As a UAGC student, you already have access to numerous organizations and clubs that will help you build a network of personal and professional contacts, but Handshake takes networking further, allowing you to conduct more informational interviews and find other students in positions or career fields that might be of interest to you.

4. Attend Events
Virtual events are held frequently via Handshake. In addition to events sponsored by UAGC Career Services, there are job search webinars, discussion panels, and speaker series that offer valuable information. Employers also use Handshake to notify students about informational sessions and hiring events. 

Beating the Bots

One of the most advantageous aspects of Handshake is that it helps you circumvent the dreaded “resume robots” – applicant tracking systems (ATS) that act as gatekeepers between job candidates and recruiters. These programs scan resumes for keywords and can leave qualified candidates out in the cold if their resumes aren’t fully optimized. In this job market, 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies are using applicant tracking systems, which means your resume could be flagged and dismissed before it’s even seen by a human face.

Handshake, however, acts as a way around applicant tracking systems. Because employers and recruiters are actively using Handshake, they can message students directly and exchange contact information. 

It’s still in your best interest to have your resume optimized for the job search. Career Services helps by providing access to JobScan, a resume optimization tool that will review your resume for free and make recommendations to ensure you have a fair shot at the job you’re qualified to do.

Why Should I Start My Job Search?

The job search itself can be incredibly beneficial, as it challenges you to get better in areas such as interviewing, networking, and, of course, talking about yourself. These skills need constant refinement and practice, and starting the search now can help you gain the confidence you need to land your dream job.

There’s no better time to start, in fact, as college graduates are in demand. According to Statista, the unemployment rate of recent graduates was just 4 percent in February 2022, as hiring bounced back following the onset of the pandemic.

Employers are ready to put college grads to work. You can start planning for your future by going to your Student Portal and using Handshake today.

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