Skip to content
Log in
Tools & tips

Reach the right candidates with proactive sourcing

Learn why—and how—building your target audience on Handshake can help you source qualified candidates more efficiently.

What’s your biggest challenge recruiting entry level talent?

Many recruiters would say it’s building a pipeline of qualified candidates.

With 15M+ active and verified students and recent grads on Handshake, you have plenty of qualified students to source—you just need the right tools to surface the specific talent you’re looking for.

Proactive sourcing is a crucial step toward building your target audience: a segmented list of qualified talent profiles whom you can then engage at scale. Learn more about why—and how—Handshake Segments helps you source qualified candidates more efficiently.

In this post:

Advantages of sourcing proactively on Handshake

In the past, sourcing was pizza, posting, and hoping. Today, sourcing is proactive, intentional, and impactful. If you’re using Handshake to source qualified early talent, you’ve come to the right place.

Handshake opens up access to opportunity for students and new grads—and access to a growing network of early career talent for campus recruiting teams. Handshake is the largest, most active network for early talent job seekers in the US with 1,500+ partner schools.

With helpful tools and rich signals to more precisely filter, target, and connect with prospective candidates at scale, reaching out to early talent on Handshake means you’re also able to get your brand in front of early talent at peak moments of influence when students are thinking about starting their careers. Is your brand consistently showing up and following through with talent on Handshake during their college-to-career journey?

Handshake data shows students want to receive sourcing messages

Sourcing is a critical part of any early talent strategy, regardless of your applicant volume.

In addition to being more efficient, early talent wants to engage with employers that reach out to them with relevant opportunities.

Early-career candidates want to hear from employers

  • More than 80% of students want to receive at least some informational messages (e.g., emails or messages sent through a career platform) from potential employers.1

Personalization is key to message engagement

  • Half of students would be more likely to reply to an employer message that’s personalized to them and their interests, and 47% would be more likely to reply if the message clearly explained why the employer chose them as a recipient.2

Messages drive event attendance and job applications

  • Two thirds of students would be more likely to attend an event if they received a message from the employer, and 70% would be more likely to apply to a job.3

The ability to create your target talent audience is what can set you apart with targeted messaging campaigns. Once you build your target talent audience in Handshake, you can use custom templates to reach candidates at scale.

“Handshake is not only a megaphone that allows us to communicate with students, but also has a great way to filter down to the kind of specific talent we’re looking for. Segments and Campaigns features and the sourcing campaigns within Handshake are a great way to really hone in on specific skill sets.”

Joe Penegor, Talent Acquisition Manager, Ally

What are the benefits of building a tailored audience?

If you’re thinking that you already have all the applicants you need, keep in mind that you can use Handshake to source pre-qualified candidates.

Put another way, you’re able to target the right talent out of a wider pool—which results in a more efficient workflow, and the opportunity to engage with the most relevant candidates possible. You can build your proactive sourcing strategy on Handshake to meet students and new grads where they are.

Without a sourcing strategy: you can end up sending a student a message to apply for an IT role in Omaha, when their major is chemical engineering and their location preferences are in the South. It doesn’t provide a positive branding experience for the student, and you’ve wasted your time and energy.

With a sourcing strategy: you can send more relevant messages and jobs, reach candidates with niche skills, location preferences, and yield a more qualified applicant pool.

How to use Handshake to speed up sourcing and fill your talent pipeline

You can expand your access to the largest, most diverse, verified talent pool of 15M+ students and alumni by using Segments within Handshake Talent Engagement Suite.

Use Segments to speed up filtering, targeting, and sourcing a subset of students and new grads so you can build a robust early talent pipeline for every role. Segments includes 20+ advanced filters to find the right talent, including:

  • Student location preference
  • Schools by institution type
  • Demographic attributes
  • Skills and coursework
  • Work authorization

If you’re not already using Handshake’s Talent Engagement Suite, you can test some of the advanced filtering to get a sense of how you can more easily surface the most relevant talent for your open roles.

What are the best ways to engage my target talent audience?

Building an audience is just the start of building a pipeline of qualified talent. With a more efficient sourcing process, you’ll be able to focus more on engaging with your audience and nurturing top early talent over time.

Consider these examples of how you can engage your target audience once you’ve built your custom segment:

“We proactively go out there and build talent Segments…we go to a bunch of events and some aren’t university-specific, and being able to send Campaigns and source [with Segments], and reach out to candidates to tell them United’s story and tell them what we have to offer, really opens up that talent pool and introduces students to our pipeline who might not have otherwise thought of roles here.”

Xandro DeOliveira, Manager, Campus & MBA Programs, United Airlines

Sourcing is about bringing your message to the right audience, at the right time, to build brand affinity and make an impact when it comes time to hire.

Build your qualified early talent pipeline with Handshake

When employers use tools like Segments in Handshake Talent Engagement Suite, they achieve outcomes like:

  • 6.7X more responsiveness
  • 3.7X greater brand engagement
  • 2.2X more applications

Test out Segments talent engine to explore how you would build your candidate pool for one of your open roles.

Explore Handshake Segments

Target the right talent with the most robust filtering criteria available. Discover how premium sourcing features help you find the right talent—faster.

Build your custom Segment


1. Handshake pulse survey, Q1 2024 | N = 1073

2. Ibid

3. Ibid

Recruit smarter with Handshake

Stay up-to-date on the latest early talent trends.