Startups Venture

Handshake Gets An $80 Million Cash Infusion For College Recruiting Platform

San Francisco-based Handshake has raised an $80 million Series D led by GGV Capital

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More than 1,000 colleges around the U.S. partner with Handshake to connect their students (my college-age sophomore included) with accounts that include their verified GPA, school year and course work. Students determine what they share with employers and who can reach out based on their career interest. 

Past investors participating in this round includes its seed lead True Ventures, Series A lead Kleiner Perkins, and Series B lead Spark Capital along with other notable firms Lightspeed Venture Partners, which invested early at the seed stage back in 2015, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Emerson Collective. This funding is two years on from Handshakes’ Series C led by EQT Ventures who also participated. 

According to Garrett Lord, CEO and co-founder of Handshake, the company has brought efficiency and greater equality to a huge market. 

Previously, employers recruited students by sitting in gymnasiums and hoping the right kids walked up to their booth. Now employers can recruit at scale with supportive technology, engaging with students year-round. 

There are 7 million students looking for internships or jobs among 17 million in total on their platform, including recent college alumni. Students use the site to talk to peers, read reviews and ask and answer questions. The platform has grown with its student base. Lord notes that recent college graduates are likely to change jobs three times in the first five years of their career.

Courtesy of Handshake

For schools, pricing is based on the size of student enrollment and is a simple all-in-one fee. Lord said the platform resonates because an average school sees a 60 percent increase in student engagement when they switch to Handshake. Schools also see a two to three times increase in employers recruiting at their campus.

“Eighty five plus percent of these career center staff members at over 1,000 institutions log into Handshake every day to do their job. So this is like their Salesforce,” said Lord.

The 1,000 school partners include 85 percent of the leading 500 schools in the U.S., along with 120 minority-serving institutions including the majority of HBCUs. 

“I would almost call it like an iron man suit on every single career center staff member,” said Lord who went to community college himself before transitioning to a four-year college. 

With this announcement, more than 70 community colleges have joined the platform as well. 

According to Director of University Recruiting at Dell Technologies, Jennifer Newbill, “Starting in Spring 2021, we’ll begin recruiting from nearly two dozen U.S. community colleges, opening up new career opportunities at Dell for people with 2-year degrees.” 

For employers it’s a freemium business model–500,000 employers are active on the platform with 100 percent of the Fortune 500.  Posting jobs and registering for events is at no cost.

For employers signing up for the premium product, pricing is based on their annual entry-level hiring, the number of Handshake seats they have, and how complex or specific their hiring is.

With the COVID-19 impact on recruiting, Handshake is helping companies replace boots on the ground with virtual events. In 2020 more than 30,000 employers will engage in virtual events at over 80 percent of their schools. The company is on track to host more than 3,000 virtual career fairs this year. 

Handshake has offices in San Francisco, Denver and more recently in London where it has signed up leading schools in the U.K. including Cambridge, University of York and University of Liverpool. 

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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