Contacts vs. Users

Tawnya -

All individuals with information in Handshake fall into one of two categories: Contacts or Users. Understanding the difference between a Contact and a User is important. This article will help.


  • Contacts are added to Handshake via a bulk upload, being manually added by a Career Services Staff Member, or automatically added through user account interaction with your school on Handshake (attending a career fair, posting a job, connecting with your school) 
  • Contacts can be thought of as a virtual address book. They may be employers, mentors, community partners, career service, etc.
  • Contacts are accessed using the Left Hand Navigation Bar (Relationships → Contacts).  
  • Each contact must have (at least) a first name, last name, and email address. A wide variety of other information, including notes and labels, can also be added to a contact.
  • A contact (unless they are also a user) does not have the ability to log on to, use, or have direct interaction with the Handshake platform.  Although the contact does not use the platform directly, content from Handshake can be sent to contacts via email.  For example, an employer contact (who does not have his own Handshake user account) can be listed on a job and then receive applications to that job via email.   
  • A contact can also be a user.  Their profiles will be linked in Handshake as long as the same email address is used for both their contact record and their user account.  

Here is an example of a contact profilecontact.png


  • A contact can also be a user.
  • A user can have multiple contact entries in Handshake – one at each of the schools they work with.
  • All Handshake users have a username and password. Users may be students, alumni, employers, Career Services Center staff, or even mentors in some cases.
  • Handshake users are able to actively use the platform, based on roles (permissions) assigned.
  • All users can access their Profile using the left-hand navigation bar.
  • Career Services Center staff are able to see the Handshake activity of all users.

Here is an example of a user profileuser.png
To learn about how to invite a Contact to become a User, read Invite Contacts to Become users? 

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