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Early talent trends

Handshake's 2020 Campus to Career Report

How the student job search evolved in the era of virtual school, work, and play.

See the trends and insights shaping 2020's early talent in Handshake's Campus to Career report.

With a health pandemic, a divisive political climate, and a surge in nationwide protests for long-needed racial justice, very little about 2020 was predictable. So perhaps it’s not surprising that the transition between college and career was also out of the ordinary this year.

When shelter-in-place orders first took effect in the spring, students abruptly left campuses in droves and adjusted to remote classrooms and online learning. With 1 in 5 students at four-year institutions saying that COVID-19 had worsened their job search opportunities, the role of higher education institutions and employers in supporting students became more crucial than ever.

Based on insights from over 7M+ active students attending 1K+ partner schools, Handshake’s 2020 Campus to Career Report is a deep dive into the latest trends, concerns, interests, and preferences for recent graduates entering the workforce. Making sense of this unprecedented time will require all three sides of our network—early talent, colleges, and employers alike—to work together to prepare for what's ahead.

What today’s early talent is looking for

As in previous years, Handshake's Campus to Career report identifies the most popular industries and roles that students and recent grads are applying to, along with the top skills they list on their profiles and where they want to live. This year, we examine COVID-19's impact on students' career choices, the job benefits that increasingly matter, and ways higher ed and employers can better support their future leaders.

The report captures:

  • How students perceive mental health
  • The growth in remote work opportunities
  • Popularity of jobs in government and nonprofits
  • The rise of the analyst (business, data, and IT)

2020 was indeed the year of the virtual career fair. With over 2,300 hosted on Handshake this fall, our platform offered a front-row seat to the experience. As employers prepare to double down on virtual recruiting, you'll find some success stories as well as lessons learned from virtual career fairs for attracting and engaging early talent in the months and years to come.

Best practices for career services, employers & students

As in previous reports, this year’s report shares key insights from our three-sided network on best practices in an increasingly virtual world.

Best practices for career services include:

Best practices for employers include:

  • how to reassure early talent during this vulnerable time in their lives
  • the right mix of 1:1 and group sessions to optimize virtual fair engagement

Best practices for students include:

Looking ahead

We encourage college career centers and employers to apply these findings to better support this new generation of college graduates, helping them find meaningful careers. And even in such an unpredictable economic climate, we also encourage early talent to strengthen their candidacy for open positions by building up their profiles with the most sought-after skills, and by proactively communicating with employers in a strategic way.

Get Handshake's Campus to Career report to learn the trends and insights impacting early talent.

We hope you’re inspired to see how we can all support students as they transition from education to career.

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