Four years ago, when we started Handshake, our goal was to help democratize opportunity - to help every college student find a great job and build a meaningful career, no matter where they go to school, what they’re majoring in, or who they know.
While we have a long way to go to fulfill our vision, we’re now a few steps closer. Today, Handshake is launching our new job discovery platform, which uses machine learning to help students expand their horizons and focus in on jobs and internships that match their interests. And Handshake is now mobile, with our beautiful new iOS app (Android coming soon!), so students can keep their job search on track no matter where they go.
The core idea is that job searching is better together. We’re applying machine learning to what we know about how our 8 million students and young alumni are searching, favoriting, applying to jobs, and getting hired by companies on Handshake. We then use this data to help curate and recommend opportunities to students based on their interests, skills, and locations, instead of just who they know and what school they go to.
This is exactly why we started Handshake. My friends and I in northern Michigan didn’t have a lot of insight into what kind of jobs or internships were out there for us, or how we would go find them. We were stuck waiting to see if a good employer showed up at school, or asking friends or relatives for introductions - which doesn’t help much if your family isn’t wealthy or well-connected.
Basic keyword search tools were the most exciting technology our career services office had to offer. But a standard keyword search process requires a student to know what they want to search for. Millions of college students don’t actually know what they want to do after college. Faced with a blank search bar, students often reply with a blank stare.
Now on Handshake, a student doesn’t have to know what they want to do. We learn their interests, skills, and backgrounds and then recommend opportunities based on what similar students are excited about, and then our algorithms tune our recommendations based on student behavior over time. This is particularly powerful for students from diverse backgrounds and first-generation college students, who often don’t have access to the resources or information networks of students from more privileged backgrounds.
All of this is possible because of the scale of Handshake’s network. Three years ago, we started at 5 colleges in the Midwest who took a chance on us. We grew to 60 colleges in 2015, then 170 in 2016, and now we’re the career platform for more than 400 colleges and universities, including 60% of the US News top 200, 8 of the Top 10 HBCUs, 60%+ of the Ivy League, Top 40 Liberal Arts Schools, Pac-12, SEC, ACC, Mountain West conferences, and on and on.
This network now powers recruiting for 8 million students and young alumni, and 160,000 companies, including 99% of the Fortune 500.
To truly democratize opportunity, you have to start by democratizing access. Our growth is proving that today - the average school that joins Handshake sees a 3x increase in the number of employers, and significantly more employer diversity. Students have more access to a wider variety of opportunities than ever before. And now, with our new mobile app and the integration of predictive job discovery, jobs and careers that they may never have considered will be right at their fingertips.