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December 6, 2023

Top early talent trends of 2023

Insights to shape your recruiting strategy for the new year, based on twelve months of data from the world’s largest early talent network.

Handshake Network Trends’ 2023 Year in Review Report presents platform activity across the 3 sides of our marketplace—students, employers, and career centers. Look back at 2023 trends for signals that will shape your year on Handshake in 2024, from the emojis you use (and don't use—sorry, 🦄 emoji ) to the jobs you post, the events you host, and the messages you send.

Read on for...

Hottest jobs by application volume

These roles received the most total applications from early talent candidates on Handshake this year:

  1. Business Analysts and Management Consultants
  2. Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists
  3. Office and Administrative Support Workers
  4. Software Developers and Engineers
  5. Data Analysts
  6. Accountants and Auditors
  7. Public Relations Specialists
  8. Financial and Investment Analysts
  9. Data Scientists
  10. Human Resources Specialists

Which industry is hiring for which job?

From archivists to zoologists, check out of a few of the most in-demand jobs by industry:

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Most in-demand skills

Sales and marketing skills are just as sought after as tech skills. Employers on Handshake sent the most messaging campaigns targeting candidates with these skills in 2023:

  1. Sales
  2. Customer service
  3. Leadership
  4. Python
  5. C++
  6. Communication
  7. Java
  8. SQL
  9. Marketing
  10. Business Development

Top search terms

These were the most-searched-for terms by students and alumni on Handshake this year:

  1. Marketing
  2. Finance
  3. Analyst
  4. Software
  5. Software engineer
  6. Data analyst
  7. Data
  8. Research
  9. Library
  10. Psychology

Trending search term

Students and alumni searched for “Artificial Intelligence” more than 10,000 times on Handshake in 2023—a 50% increase from last year.

Most popular employer events

Employers used Handshake to host more than 200,000 events in 2023, with close to 3 million total registrations from candidates. The most common event formats were:

  1. General info sessions
  2. Workshops
  3. Networking events

Overall, employers offered more in-person than virtual events in 2023, but virtual options remained popular with candidates:

  • Early talent candidates registered for virtual workshops at higher rates than in-person
  • Virtual and in-person info sessions had about the same number of registrants on average
  • In-person networking events attracted more registrants than their virtual counterparts

Eye-catching event

Career Spark Award 2023 winner Temple University teamed up with Early Talent Award 2023 winner ALDI Grocery Stores to offer an emotional intelligence workshop focused on “equipping participants with the essential skills and cultural awareness needed to thrive in diverse workplace settings.”

Trending employer benefit

More than half of current undergrads on Handshake expect to graduate with student loan debt, and forward-thinking employers are stepping up to help. The share of new job descriptions on Handshake that mention student loan repayment support has more than doubled in the past three years.

Top times for messaging

Early talent candidates sent more than 3 million messages to employers and career services through Handshake in 2023. Candidates were most engaged with messaging:

  • In the fall—September and October were the most active months for messaging, followed by January and February. Candidates were least active in June and July.
  • In the middle of the week—job seekers on Handshake aren’t waiting for the weekend to message employers. The most messaging-heavy day of the week was Wednesday, followed by Thursday and Tuesday; Saturday and Sunday came in at the back of the pack.
  • In the evenings—candidate messaging activity peaked between 5 and 8pm, while mornings, particularly the hours between 7 and 11am, were least active.

Most popular majors

Current undergrads on Handshake are most likely to be majoring in one of these 10 fields:

  • Psychology
  • Business Administration & Management
  • Computer Science
  • Biology
  • Nursing
  • Communication & Media Studies
  • Finance & Financial Management
  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Criminal Justice

10 majors to watch

Less-traditional majors are gaining traction, especially in tech fields. These majors have jumped in popularity in the past year:

  • Computer Engineering
  • Construction Management
  • Counseling
  • Cybersecurity
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Epidemiology
  • Health & Exercise Science
  • Game Development
  • Operations Management
  • Social Computing

The hottest club on campus is…

Students on Handshake were most likely to list these organizations and extracurriculars on their profiles this year:

  1. National Honors Society
  2. Christian Fellowship
  3. Women in Business
  4. Undergraduate Student Government
  5. Black Student Alliance
  6. Society of Women Engineers
  7. Boy Scouts of America
  8. Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA)
  9. Red Cross
  10. Finance Club

Emojis of the year

If a picture is worth a thousand words, employers, early talent candidates, and career services spoke volumes to each other in 2023. More than 500 different emojis showed up in messages and job descriptions on Handshake this year, with the most common emojis giving smiley, sparkly, and occasionally sweaty:

Trending emojis

  • Pets are in—the 🐶 and 🐱emojis made the top 50 most popular emojis (out of 500+) in job descriptions in 2023, thanks to more employers offering perks like pet insurance and pet-friendly offices. But unicorns are out—the 🦄 emoji showed up in fewer than 10 job descriptions on Handshake this year.
  • Coffee and sushi top the list of popular office emoji-snacks—here are the most common food and beverage emojis used in job descriptions: ☕, 🍣, 🥘, 🍳, 🍬, 🍻, 🍔, 🍕, 🌮, 🥕
  • Candidates’ most-used emojis may be all smiles, but that doesn’t mean job searching is easy—the 😭, 🤦, and 😞 emojis made frequent appearances in candidate messages this year, usually in reference to missed deadlines and scheduling conflicts.

That emoji may not mean what you think it means…

Here are a few of the weirdest and wildest emoji uses in job descriptions:

  • “The healthcare job market is BOOMING 💣”
  • “🥘 You can build an automated pipeline to get leads”
  • “🥕 Self-motivated with the ability to work unsupervised, problem solve, and hustle”
  • “🐸 You're currently pursuing or have recently completed a bachelor's degree in Marketing, Communications, Business Administration, or a related field”

Which trends stood out to you this year?

Did you see any of these trends in action? Is there one we missed? How will this data inform your strategy for 2024? Let us know on social at @joinhandshake or tag #OurYearOnHandshake to share your thoughts.


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