T3 – Handshake @JoinHandshake

This week on T3 I take a look at the recruiting platform for college students called Handshake. If you recruit new grads from college campuses you know the pain of not having a one-stop shop to get the students you need. Most companies still waste a ton of resources attending career fairs and negotiating individual college career offices one-on-one.

Handshake looks to break that cycle by doing what LinkedIn has failed to do, give college students one place, one networking site that is all their own to look for jobs and connect with companies. On the flip side, they are also providing a platform where employers can search for students by posting jobs or searching millions of student profiles by the university, major and grad year.

Handshake isn’t a new idea. Kris Dunn famously loves to tell people I singlehandedly put MyEdu out of business when I keynoted an event from them and the next week they went out of business! I get pitched probably twice a year from new companies trying to do what Handshake is attempting to do, build a platform that connects college students with employers. LinkedIn for college students, except they would hate to be called that, but you get the picture.

What I like about Handshake?

Free to both students and employers! What to build critical mass, like LinkedIn? Give it away for free, except Handshake actually sells their platform to college career services offices on an annual subscription. Also, they will make money on premium services to employers. (See? LinkedIn!)

Unlike most student-to-employer techs I’m pitched, Handshake has figured out you need to get some VC and use that money to grow your user base, both colleges, students, and employers. They currently have over 150 colleges using (Stanford, Michigan, Texas, Cal, etc. – a who’s who of universities), 140,000 recruiters/employers, and over 2.5 million student profiles.

College career fairs aren’t going away anytime soon, as most employers still want to build a reputation on campus. Handshake helps out both employers and career services with tools to plan events, schedule interviews, etc. on campus. While most recruiting will be done on the site, the best employers will still maintain a presence on campus.

They have a brand that feels like it will stick. Let’s face it, the student-to-employer space won’t be shared by multiple technologies. Someone will win this space and control the vast amount of college hiring that takes place. I like the Handshake brand and story, I think it could stick. That’s important in a game that has yet to be decided.

They’ve built a UI/UX that students will feel very comfortable with and it’s as easy to use as any social media site they use now, and it’s clean. By uploading your resume most of the profile is auto-filled and it can be tweaked from there.

If you recruit on campus or from colleges, you need to check out Handshake.  The technology makes it easy to find kids on campus whereas college career service offices tend to be a pain in the butt to deal with and only want to post openings for you, versus give you direct access to students when you need them, not when the annual career fair is scheduled.

LinkedIn will have a say in how all of this ends. I can’t believe they’ll sit on the sidelines for this and watch Handshake just take the college market from them without a fight and a product of their own. Handshake has some first round funding, enough to make some noise, but not enough to send fear into LI! Stay tuned, it should be interesting.

T3 – Talent Tech Tuesday – is a weekly series here at The Project to educate and inform everyone who stops by on a daily/weekly basis on some great HR, recruiting, and sourcing technologies that are on the market.  None of the companies who I highlight are paying me for this promotion.  There are so many really cool things going on in the tech space and I wanted to educate myself and share what I find.  If you want to be on T3 – send me a note.

4 thoughts on “T3 – Handshake @JoinHandshake

  1. Handshake is impressive in simplifying a lot of the campus recruitment processes. But as someone who has recruited graduates for many years, the weakness in their system is the limited filters an employer can use to screen candidates.
    GPA, school, degree level, major etc is all basic info. What’s missing is career related work experience and the type/level of extra-curricular activities. That’s what distinguishes strong graduates from the middle-of-the roaders. And that’s what employers want – how to shortlist to the top 20%.

  2. Hi Heather, interested in your use case…do you need multiple feeds coming from multiple employers in your area for this to work well. Shane

  3. Hi! I’m one of those pain in the neck college career services people, here to clarify a few things. 1. It’s nice that Handshake is free to employers–all similar vendors are except for premium services–but charging college career centers isn’t the most sustainable business model. Many career centers, especially at smaller colleges serving lower-income students, can’t afford more than about $3,000 per year for vendor software. I’ve been in the field long enough to see 6-7 other vendors go out of business. Therefore it’s unlikely any single vendor will corner the market unless they are very cheap. 2. Colleges are governed by a federal law called FERPA which makes it illegal for us to hand out student contact information to employers. 3. Nothing is going to replace LinkedIn and it’s silly to pretend that. Career centers now all push their students to use it and provide advanced training on it. Rather than segregate college talent in another platform, we use LinkedIn. 4. The real game changer would be a platform that lets recruiters sync their ATS with platforms like Handshake, Symplicity or GradLeaders, and let colleges unload jobs from an XML feed rather than manually posting. I’ve asked ATS vendors why they don’t get into this market and they all referred to problem #1 above.

    • Great insight Heather – thanks for sharing. I also believe LI can control this market if they wanted to, but they seem not to want to. Let’s see if Microsoft has another opinion on this!

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