Handshake is committed to expanding your students’ access to relevant opportunities and creating more equitable outcomes. A major part of this vision involves shifting Handshake to be a relationships-focused platform. Encouraging students to build digital relationships with employers and alumni is key to helping students build social capital throughout their academic careers. Increasing the breadth and depth of students’ professional networks, especially virtually, will ultimately help them further their career development.
Why digital relationships are a huge student & employer win
To hire and retain the next generation of early talent, it’s crucial for employers to establish a strong digital recruiting foundation. This means pivoting from traditional recruiting strategies.
By 2030, Gen Z will represent 30% of the workforce. We know that Gen Z favors digital connections with employers over in-person because they value convenience and scheduling flexibility. Nearly 7 in 10 Gen Z students believe meeting in-person is now completely unnecessary to form a professional connection. Additionally, virtual 1:1 connections are favored by women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups—meaning they can help facilitate more equitable opportunities.
In the fall of 2020, students who engaged with employers in a virtual 1:1 were 36% more likely to apply for a job. Since then, with the global pandemic shifting employers toward remote-first and distributed work environments, more than 80% Gen Z job-seekers believed that digital connections via messages will lead to a job opportunity by helping them stand out.
Knowing this, it’s imperative to evangelize tools that help students form digital relationships.
4 features career services can promote to foster digital relationships
Pro-tip: Here’s a quick checklist you can share with students to help them form digital connections on Handshake
1. Virtual Info Chats
Any employer can offer virtual info chats as a way for students to learn about their companies or answer specific questions about job postings. Rather than replacing job interviews, info chats are more informal, practical conversations that can help students stand out amongst their peers. These short 15-minute video sessions are promoted by employers via job postings and messages and can be scheduled at the student’s convenience. Read more about virtual info chats here!
2. Student Initiated Messaging
Are your students looking for more ways to get a leg up when looking for jobs or internships? Encourage them to create the first touchpoint by directly messaging recruiters or employees connected to jobs they’re interested in. This is a great way to get the inside scoop on a role that they otherwise won’t be privy to and again, stand out amongst their peers by showing initiative. Share this blog post with students to encourage them to proactively reach out to employers!
3. Virtual Fairs
With virtual recruiting here to stay, virtual career fairs are an effective way for schools to directly facilitate digital relationships between students and employers at scale. Plus, virtual fairs help career services teams gain access to invaluable data and engagement insights. Students that are early in their career search can explore different employers via group sessions, while those that are further along in their search can sign up for 1:1s. Share this guide to attending a virtual fair with your students!
Over the summer, Handshake also made it easy for students and employers to message one another after meeting 1:1 at virtual fairs. Between August and October, students reached out to employers they met with at virtual fairs over 100,000 times—the employer response rate was 43%. This demonstrates the power of our digital relationship tools and the value it provides to both students and employers.
4. (New!) Alumni Hub
As you work to facilitate student-employer connections, Alumni Hub helps you reach out to key alumni contacts and to encourage them to connect with your students via info chats, fairs, and events. Engaging employers with a connection to your institution will help unlock unique opportunities for students. Watch the Alumni Hub training webinar here!
All these tools have powerful implications and can be used concurrently to deepen a student’s digital network. Sometimes, the hardest part of doing anything is taking that first step, and we’re hoping to break down that barrier by creating useful, unintimidating tools that all students can really use to build up their digital network!