Handshake’s core mission is to democratize opportunity - to level the playing field between talent and opportunity. Working jointly with our university career center partners, we’re helping every student build a great career, no matter where they go to school, who they know or how much money they have.

We can only achieve our mission with the trust of our university customers, their students and employers. That trust is built, in large part, on our ability to protect student data privacy. We take that responsibility very seriously.

Today, I’d like to describe (A) how and why we use student data to help drive a more personalized and engaging student experience, and connect students to far more - and more diverse - opportunities than ever before. And (B) how we ensure that student data is always handled securely, legally, and 100% in accordance with a student’s wishes.

First, Handshake leverages student data to fundamentally transform how career services management software works, to help drive an engaging career exploration and development experience and better outcomes for students. By intelligently - and securely - using data, Handshake can make the experience:

  • More personalized: By helping students to build a comprehensive profile, or e-portfolio, including their coursework, knowledge, skills, strengths and interests, Handshake can power a more personalized experience for every student, in which students can receive a greater number of job and internship opportunities, educational events and information, and powerful networking connections.
  • More engaging: Student usage and profile data enables Handshake to offer students increasingly relevant and personalized recommendations for internships, jobs and events. This has helped drive a +40% increase in student engagement to-date.
  • More access to opportunities: Handshake’s network of 200+ schools makes it easy for our 125,000 employers to easily recruit and target millions of students at schools across the country. Career centers who switch to Handshake have experienced an average increase of 300% in the number of employers recruiting students at their school. Employers can leverage powerful search tools to find great students, regardless of where the students go to school, who they know, or what they’re majoring in.

However, with the capabilities that all this data provides comes much responsibility. At Handshake, we have three guiding principles regarding student data privacy.

  1. Each student is in full control of his/her data, 100% of the time. Students are in complete control of their relationship with Handshake, their data on the platform, and how they are portrayed.
    1. Students can choose to sign - or not sign - the Terms of Service (TOS). Students who do not sign the TOS are not public, and will not be seen by any employer. No student data uploaded by the university to Handshake is ever viewable by any employer or student until a student has signed the TOS and made their profile public.
    2. Students can choose to make their profile public or private (and can change this decision at any time). Students who sign the TOS and create a Handshake account can easily HIDE their profile (9% of students who sign the TOS hide their profile today). A student can easily use Handshake to register for a career fair or sign up for a career counseling appointment without any employer seeing his or her data.
    3. Students can choose to show or hide specific personal data, like GPA. Students who sign the TOS and make their profile public can still hide their GPA (24% of students with public profiles hide their GPA today). Employers still can search for and find public students who have chosen to not show their GPA, but they cannot view those students’ GPA.
  2. Universities are in complete control of the student data they choose to upload. Universities choose exactly what data they would like to be included within Handshake by default. No student data that a university uploads is ever shown to an employer unless a student signs the TOS and makes his or her profile public.
  3. Handshake will never sell student data to any third party. Handshake’s success is built on the engagement and trust of all users, especially students. Handshake will never sell student data to credit card companies, data brokers, advertisers or other similar parties.

One of Handshake’s core values is “Constant Improvement.” While counsels, registrars and career centers at more than 200 schools have reviewed and approved our terms and product flows, we have been partnering for the last few months with privacy experts and our university customers to refine and clarify our Terms of Service, Privacy Policy and other legal documents. Specifically:

  • We are refining - and narrowing - our Terms of Service. Though our TOS is already FERPA compliant, we recognize that it does not accurately reflect how data is utilized within the Handshake platform, nor the above student data privacy principles. The new TOS will better explain how we WILL use student data (i.e. to help drive better career outcomes for students), and how we will NOT use student data (i.e. selling it to credit card companies, data brokers, etc.).
  • We are communicating more regularly about our data policies. This blog post is the start of a series of communications - on our website, on webinars, in person - about how and why we use student data, and how we ensure student data privacy.
  • We are working on important product changes to improve student control. These product changes will make it even easier for students to hide their profile and control their data. For example, we envision providing more obvious ways for a student to hide their student profile even after a student has made it public.

Thank you to all of our partners. With your help, we are building the ultimate career service management platform and utilizing data - responsibly and ethically - to help transform students’ lives. If you have questions or feedback on this or any other issue, please contact us at support@joinhandshake.com.