According to recent statistics, roughly 43 percent of college graduates are underemployed upon graduation. Even worse, half of these same students will be underemployed ten years later. Despite multiple job forums and websites, effectively connecting graduates with employers has remained a challenge. But one of the newest career community for college students is changing that. The Handshake network, which can be accessed though the Handshake app.
Currently, the Handshake platform has over 14 million college students and young graduate users. As a leading college-to-career network in the U.S., it has separated itself from others by focusing on a single niche. And while the company has rivals, none appear to be doing it as well as the Handshake platform. Its mission is to reduce the gap between talent and opportunity. As a result, the Handshake app is gaining the attention of not just students but for employers as well.
The Birth and Evolution of the Handshake App and Platform
Like many startups, Handshake began in an effort to address a problem. The idea of Handshake started when the co-founders were still in school at Michigan Tech University. It became evident that two main factors influence outcomes for college students in America: socioeconomic status of your family and your regional proximity of your university to a metropolitan area or economic hub. In realizing this, they set out to create a product that would democratize opportunity for students that faced similar barriers, and more, across the country. The end result was Handshake.
Founded in 2014, Handshake connects students and recent grads with better-matched jobs. Students are able to build profiles that represents their background, experience and more as a means to overcome traditional barriers. In exchange, Handshake offers employers tools and resources like search and messaging to target top talent. By allowing employers to explore a variety of student attributes, matching a job with the right hire increases significantly.
Diversity and Inclusion – The Handshake App’s Competitive Advantage
At first glance, it might seem other career networking platforms like LinkedIn might prevent new entrants from entering this market. But these job platforms like LinkedIn are more of a mid-career tool, when you already have work experience and your professional network is established. But many students don’t have that work experience yet and may not even know what they want — they don’t even know how to put their left in front of their right foot when it comes to job searching. That’s where Handshake shines. Students know Handshake is more than a job board, it’s a community — employers come to the students and actively engage while students can connect with fellow students/recent grads from other schools to learn about their experiences in similar industries and the jobs they’re applying to.
On average, when a university partners with Handshake they see a two to three times increase in opportunities for their students within the first few months. Much of this is due to tools and settings offered by Handshake that include outcome tracking, advanced reporting, contact management tools that increase communication and collaboration efficiencies between student, career center and prospective employers. On the employer side, companies are provided an end-to-end platform for sourcing, engaging, and hiring the right talent for the right opportunities. Recruiters can leverage tools that enable applicant filtering, direct student messaging, and multi campus job posting. Partner universities now exceed 800 in number and include more than 120 minority serving institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions across the country.
Making Moves Across the Pond
Despite being one of the newest career platforms, Handshake has received tremendous support. The Handshake recently raised $40 million in Series C funding bringing its total to $74 million. This has placed it at a valuation of nearly $275 million. Likewise, Handshake now has over 300,000 employer partners in its network including 100% of the Fortune 500. Among the newest career platforms, this makes Handshake one of the boldest.
Career Platforms Identifying Niche Needs
Handshake is gaining momentum because it is fulfilling needs for students and employers alike. And while LinkedIn may be the premier social media job networking platform, unable to provide the same services to college students just starting out their career. At the same time, Millennials and Gen Z-ers have evolving demands of the newest social media platforms. Other platforms, like Islands, allow group chats and connections that appear more attractive to this demographic.
Because of this niche approach, Handshake looks to be rock solid for the immediate future. In a world offering tremendous diversity and talent, a real need exists to effectively link people with the best jobs. In doing so, Handshake has emerged as one of the most impressive career platforms for students. And in fact, they may serve as a role model of other similar social media offerings to come.