Handshake: The App That Has Changed College Job Recruiting FOREVER
Many of us remember job searching as college students – it wasn’t fun.
Overcrowded careers fairs manned by underwhelming companies, hundreds of students all waiting in lines to drop resumes on two-foot tall paper stacks, little guidance from career centers…the list goes on.
Out of San Francisco comes another tech-based disruptor that addresses many of the challenges experienced by three different groups involved in the college student recruitment process: students, school career centers, and employers.
Handshake, launched in 2014 by Garrett Lord, Scott Ringwelski, and Ben Christensen, is an app-based recruitment platform that is recharacterizing how college students find their first jobs out of school using an app.
Handshake, First and Foremost, Exists to Serve Students
With a simple, yet elegant smartphone app, college students are able to apply for internships and jobs with just a few clicks rather than navigate overcrowded career fairs with a limited number of employers representing only a few industries.
“We created Handshake to democratize the process and help students to get into a career and find a job,” -Lord, Founder.
The platform even allows students to rate their experiences with the companies recruiting, bringing an additional level of accountability to the process. CEO Lord commenting, “We are bringing a diversity of employment opportunities to students.”
Handshake’s platform is also designed to revamp school career centers and help them get more job opportunities in front of more of their students. This customer base makes up a significant portion of the company’s bread and butter as Handshake charges an undisclosed annual licensing fee which makes it different from similar platforms like Indeed and WayUp.
Handshake also provides analytical insights to schools so they can track the success of their students in finding jobs. Some colleges have seen so much success with Handshake’s platform that they have made it mandatory for students to sign up.
Employers are the third customer group that benefits tremendously from the platform. Through Handshake, they have access to a much more geographically diverse pool of candidates and can now reach more schools without having to attend careers fairs. Companies can sign up for free or pay a premium to create more targeted and personalized recruitment campaigns for students.
Additionally, firms can book career fairs, interact with hundreds of career centers simultaneously, and communicate with specific students through the app. This is especially helpful for small businesses that do not have the resources or manpower to recruit like larger firms do.
From Students to San Francisco-based Start-up Founders in TWO Years
Handshake is the brainchild of Garrett Lord, a Michigan Tech alumnus, who recruited fellow classmates, Scott Ringwelski and Ben Christensen, back in 2013 to help him solve job access inequality across U.S. colleges.
The story goes that Lord, Ringwelski, and Christensen drove across the country, sneaking into career fairs and collecting sound bites from students, recruiters, and employers to get a sense for how others perceived the job placement process for college students. Their first-hand market research ultimately spawned what Handshake is today.
Over the next few years, the company raised Series A and B funding led by True Ventures and Spark Capital, respectively, and hit the 5 million mark on applications submitted by students, thereby showcasing the ever-elusive and highly coveted “hockey stick growth” so many startups are after.
One of the company’s greater achievements to date has been in increasing the number of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) on the platform. In 2017, eight HBCUs signed on. Spelman College reported a three to four times increase in the number of job postings targeting its students as compared to the previous year.
Rapidly Approaching 10 MILLION Student Users
Since its founding, Lord and team have built up an impressively deep and wide user base. Today, Handshake serves over 9 million students, 250 thousand employers, and 500 schools with a lean and mean 90-member team.
With Handshake, we see another example of technology quickly dismantling and reinventing incumbent systems for the better. The Handshake team has created a multi-functional, geographically agnostic solution that breaks down the previous barriers holding college students back from finding the right job opportunities and employers from finding the right talent.
This Untold Business story reminds us that there is tremendous opportunity in developing platforms that break down barriers between disparate groups and align incentives so that everyone wins. Lord initially recognized access inequality for students but quickly learned he could create a solution that employers would also appreciate. On top of that, he also realized he could work closely with college career centers and create a platform that would also fulfill their needs. With a powerful value proposition for students, schools, and employers, it is no surprise the company has grown so quickly. For those of you seeking your next all-star, post-grad hire, jump on Handshake and get started today!
June 10, 2018| By Chris Fruci- Untold Business Writer