Shake Hands with Handshake


By Madge Slack

When referring to the University of Utah’s shiny new job board, Preston Nielson, associate director of employer engagement, said,“It’s the Cadillac of job boards for students.” Although, it isn’t really new.

Handshake, a modern career development platform, “was started by two guys at a technical school in Michigan. They were having a hard time getting employers to visit or even post jobs at the university,” explained Nielson. “Their whole mission is democratizing opportunity,” Nielson said. “So making sure that students from any school all have the same opportunity.”

Here’s how it works — an employer creates a Handshake profile and posts a job. Then, they can send that job posting to any university participating in Handshake anywhere in the country. The career advisors then decide which job postings are good opportunities for their students and approve them.

This new system is specifically built to connect employers and students. Employers only have to post each job once instead of posting the application at each individual school. This opens up significantly more opportunities for smaller schools or schools farther from the job location. Handshake currently boasts 9 million students registered, 670 university partners and 250,000 employers. This includes all of the Fortune 500 companies. Handshake is sweeping the nation with its user-friendly interface and easy access system. As it turns out, the U and Brigham Young University were the last two schools to join in Utah, according to Nielson.

Why the trend? Handshake is unique from other job sites like Indeed or Ziprecruiter. First, it is much more in-depth than other job sites. Handshake creates a profile of job experiences, skills and social media links, but it also includes things like projects, relevant course lists and hobbies or volunteering. It encourages you to upload additional documents such as a cover letter along with your resume. The best part is it matches you to employers.

When a job is posted the employer can also set specifications as to what kind of applicant they would like. These are things such as graduation date, GPA and experience or courses. Handshake’s algorithm then goes out and finds students who meet the criteria and pairs them with employers. You can still apply to jobs where you don’t meet all of the specifications, but it heightens your chances if you apply to jobs where you do.

The algorithm works both ways. As a graduating senior, you can decide you want a job in the Pacific Northwest working in the foresting industry. Let Handshake know, and they will alert you to any and all matches as soon as they are posted. Handshake also has more internships than anywhere else, and employers are specifically looking for students.

Speaking of internships, all of the opportunities on Handshake are approved by career services. Career services is part of the National Association of Colleges and Employers. It works to ensure your internship will be spent actually learning and not fetching coffee or taking lunch orders.

In Nielson’s words, “When we think about internships we think, it has to be time bound, have a set supervisor and have clear learning objectives.” Any Handshake internship will have a clear beginning and end date. Plus, Handshake clearly identifies whether they are full or part-time and paid or unpaid.

Handshake is a new addition to the U. All registered students already have an account. All students have to do is log on and activate it.

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