Student Professional Network Handshake Shakes on $10.5 Million

Student Professional Network Handshake Shakes on $10.5 Million


A student-employer matchmaker just made a match of its own. Handshake, a university career services platform and student professional network, today announced it raised $10.5 million in Series A financing. The San Francisco-based company launched in 2014 and last year grew its partnerships from five to 60 U.S. colleges and universities.

Handshake streamlines the job recruitment process for students and employers. Companies build profiles and request to connect with colleges and universities that use the platform. Students log in and share their information (e.g., GPA, year of study, classwork activity) and access personalized career information including company news, career fair details and job postings. The idea is to broaden students’ access to employers who might not recruit at their school--and vice-versa, says Jonathan Stull, head of business at Handshake. “It’s not just the Googles and Bains and McKinseys of the world that can go out and spend a ton of money to find [students].”

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers led the latest investment round, with participation from True Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Lowercase Capital. Handshake Founder Garrett Lord says the company will use the new funds to expand to more campuses, ramp up product development efforts and roll out premium features to employers. Companies currently use Handshake for free, and college and university career services centers pay an annual subscription fee to use the software.

Image credit: Handshake

The company was conceived of Lord’s experience as an undergraduate at Michigan Tech. The university is a seven-hour drive north from Chicago and receives 200 inches a snowfall a year, making it less than ideal for recruiters to visit. “It was incredibly hard to get connected with top tech employers,” Lord says. Instead of connecting to individual on-campus recruiting system, employers can post jobs to all participating schools. 

Handshake’s network has more than 1.3 million students, and 300,000 of them submitted more than 450,000 applications last fall. The company says it doesn’t have full data about outcomes because it’s in its first recruitment cycle. It’s also building its own “first destination survey”--a tool that schools use to figure out the kinds of jobs their alumni land. “We’re going to ensure that every school is armed with understanding their data around industries, jobs and salaries, which can help them plan their career service center offerings,” Lord says. The University of Michigan, Stanford University, Villanova University and Cornell University are among current users. Companies including Nike, Google, Ernst & Young and Chevron are using Handshake to recruit.

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