About Handshake Open

Tawnya -

Background on opening Handshake

Handshake’s mission has always been to ensure that all students are able to find meaningful jobs, regardless of where they’re from or where they go to school. This year, more students around the country will have that chance.  

As of August 20th, any undergraduate student with a “.edu” email address from a four-year college or university can sign up for Handshake, where they will get access to some of the job search and community features we offer our Partner school students today. You can read more about the decision to open up access here. You can also review our VP of Higher Education and Student Success Christine Cruzvergara’s blog post about opening up access here.

We know this is a big shift for many of our career center Partners; we’ve received many thoughtful questions over the past year as we discussed this move in webinars, meetups, office hours at NACE, and many other forums. We thought it would be helpful to aggregate those questions into one place for you, your teams, and school administrators to review in more detail.

Before diving into FAQs, a few important, foundational points:

  • Students at our Partner schools will continue to have far more access and benefits than students at non-Partner schools
  • Only students at Partner schools can see school-specific content like jobs and events. 
  • Partner schools will continue to have exclusive access to all of our powerful workflow, reporting and management tools. Non-Partner schools will have NO access to data & reporting or our powerful management tools.
  • This move is consistent with our Students First mission and putting Students First means keeping Universities at the center of what we build. Everything we build for students is better when we work with our University partners. 


FAQ’s about opening Handshake

Why did Handshake decide to open up access to more students?

Our mission has always been to help all students find opportunity. This is simply another method we’re adding to our strategy to more fully meet that mission, along with our core university partnerships. We always prefer to partner with universities - we have specifically built Handshake to be an effective resource to amplify and improve the great work university career professionals do to support students. We also recognize that not every school has the resources or structure to build a partnership with us, and we want to be able to support those students as well. 


What features do students from non-Partner institutions have access to vs. my students?

Students who attend non-Partner institutions can access public job postings, public events, and our peer learning tools (Reviews, Q&A, and Peer Messaging). But most of what Handshake provides is only accessible to students at Partner schools. Specifically, only students at Partner schools can use Handshake to… 

  • Access jobs targeted specifically to their school and curated by their career center
  • Browse and RSVP for events and career fairs curated by their career center
  • Schedule appointments with career advisors
  • Sign up for and manage interview slots
  • Share post-graduation plans with their career center
  • Review resource articles posted by their school
  • And many more features


Will my students get a better experience than those from non-Partner schools?

Yes! Your students will have a significantly better experience on Handshake than students at non-Partner schools. This is the critical distinction: at non-Partner schools, Handshake doesn’t have an engaged partner in you, the Career Center! Our whole product is built around you, and we’re focused on empowering and integrating the ways you support your students. Handshake aims to continue integrating more disparate tools for our university Partners over time.

As noted above, only students at Partner schools will be able to see jobs, events, peer learning and community tools together with all of their school-specific features like career fairs, appointments, for-credit internships, and many more. 

Importantly, even those features that non-Partner students can use, like job search, events and peer learning, are better for students at Partner schools. Here’s how:

  • Job Search is better for Partner Schools because many employers search for specific schools and students from school-specific majors and groups. Students at Non-Partner schools only see the jobs posted to “All Schools”. They can never see jobs posted to your specific school.
  • Events are more targeted and more plentiful for Partner Schools - students from non-Partner schools can only see events that have been posted publicly to everyone. Students at non-Partner schools can never see your private school-specific events!
  • Peer Learning is better for Partner Schools. At Partner schools, students have far more school-specific content like company reviews or questions and answers posted by their classmates.  Additionally, because there are more students and alumni from Partner institutions on Handshake, students at Partner schools have far more opportunity to make more peer connections within their own institution. While students from non-Partner schools have access to our peer learning tools, students from Partner schools can learn from a larger pool of classmates and alumni with similar backgrounds and experience.

Check out this one-pager for an overview of the features that students from non-Partner institutions have access to.


If some students can use Handshake for free, what am I paying for?

Partner Schools continue to receive tremendous value. Only Partner Schools have access to all of Handshake’s workflow tools and reporting / insights. That includes the following:

  • Targeted Email Tools
  • Reporting and Data Insights
  • Fairs and Events Management
  • Employer and Job Approval 
  • Employer Contact Management
  • Interview Schedule Management
  • Appointment Scheduling and Management
  • The First Destination Survey 
  • Survey Creation
  • Appointment Scheduling and Management
  • Document Review
  • Resource Library
  • Experiential Learning Management
  • Distributed Campus Functionality
  • RSS Feeds
  • Importer Data Sync
  • Two-Way Calendar Sync
  • Single-Sign-On
  • All additional career services workflow processes 
  • For a full list, see here.

To be clear, schools that are not partnering with Handshake will have NO ACCESS to any data or insights from Handshake about their students or how they are progressing, and they will have NO ABILITY to manage their school or their student experience. 

Additionally, as we go into this next year, we’ll be dedicating significant resources towards our workflow tools and ensuring our Partners can access data more readily and in ways that showcase your impact on student outcomes. We know how important it is for you to tell your story with data to senior administrators and your institution.

Further, only Partner Schools have access to our 30+ success and support team members who help you and your teams through product troubleshooting, tracking product requests, and implementation and optimization strategies. These team members will continue to work exclusively with Handshake Partner schools through means such as:

  • Success team phone calls and on-campus visits 
  • Webinars - Training and Product Feedback 
  • Regional Meetups - we hosted 4 this summer attended by 700+ customers
  • Ticket submission for troubleshooting
  • Scheduled calls with our support team
  • Urgent phone call availability with our support team
  • User Meetups
  • Facilitating Handshake Community discussions


As a Partner school, how does this benefit me?

Essentially, by expanding Handshake’s community to a broader audience, we are helping to provide your students with even more access to jobs, information, and social capital.

More Access: Giving employers the option to post broadly in Handshake helps to streamline employer processes and, ultimately, make Handshake an even more appealing platform for posting positions, which translates to greater opportunity for our Partner schools.  Essentially, the more employers who are using Handshake for all their entry-level talent, the more likely they are to reach out to your students.

More Information: Students on Handshake today benefit from learning from students at all Handshake schools. For example, while our Reviews already cover thousands of employers, we are missing reviews for hundreds of thousands of employers, and we are missing coverage of many different job roles in those companies. By opening Handshake’s student network, we can ensure many more companies and job roles are covered, particularly more small companies and more niche roles. This helps ensure you, your teams and your students have better access to information. 

More Social Capital: Similarly, by making it easier for students from any school to use Handshake, your students now have access to more students and alumni to provide advice and mentoring. While this may not be necessary for students following well-trodden paths, we continually hear frustration from students who are majoring in a niche area or interested in unique job roles or career paths, or who simply attend very small schools that often can’t easily connect with people who can help them. By making it easier for students from every school to join, we can expand the community that your students can engage with.


Do my students now face more competition for jobs?

There is really no added competition for your students. Students from a Partner school will still have exclusive access to the opportunities posted to that specific institution. These types of opportunities aren’t going away. Even with these changes, the vast majority of employers on Handshake are continuing to select specific schools at which to post their jobs.

The positions posted to all schools are typically ones that the employer would have posted publicly on other platforms anyway. Giving employers the option to post broadly in Handshake helps to streamline employer processes and, ultimately, make Handshake an even more appealing platform for posting positions, giving our Partner schools more opportunity.  

As we’ve grown from five Partner schools to 800+, your students have always been part of a network. Whenever we’ve added more schools, we’ve added more students into the network. But we’ve always helped your students continue to stand out by making it easy for employers to continue posting jobs just to the students at your school (which isn’t going anywhere!). 


Which jobs will students at non-Partner institutions have access to?

Importantly, students at non-Partner institutions will never have access to jobs that are posted only to your school. Jobs posted only to your school (or to an employer-curated list of schools) will always remain available just to your students.

Because most employers are still choosing to target their opportunities to a curated list of schools, students at non-Partner schools today only have access to a few thousand jobs. While this will grow, it is far less than the potential for every Partner school on the network.

As discussed earlier, the positions posted to all schools are typically ones that the employer would have posted publicly on other platforms anyway. Giving employers the option to post broadly in Handshake helps to streamline employer processes and, ultimately, make Handshake an even more appealing platform for posting positions, giving our Partner schools more opportunity.  

To ensure we maintain a trusted network, only employers with a trust score over 80 will be permitted to share their opportunities with students from non-Partner institutions.  


How will employers decide which schools to post to?

In order to actually post beyond Partner schools, a qualifying employer first has to select the option to “Add All Schools” to their posting. By selecting “Add All Schools”, this means that every Handshake Partner school they are connected with will get the posting as well.  For example, if an employer is connected to 50 schools, the job will get posted to all of those 50 schools when an employer selects “Add All Schools.”

When an employer selects this option, they will then see an additional checkbox that allows them to indicate whether they want to additionally target students from non-Partner institutions (i.e. “students in the Handshake Open Network”). This option has an information icon that the employer can hover over to learn more about what this means.


Will my office still be able to control which jobs are approved at my school? Will my students have access to jobs posted to students from non-Partner institutions?

Yes and yes - if you want those extra jobs! Nothing about your process for approving employers or jobs is changing - you still have control over which employers you connect with and which jobs your students see.  

Furthermore, if you have approved an employer, any position that employer opts to post to students at non-Partner institutions will also come to you for approval.  In order to post to students at non-Partner institutions, the employer first has to opt to post to all Partner institutions they’re approved at. We built it this way to ensure we weren’t taking jobs away from Partner schools to give to students at non-Partner schools. 


Will students at non-Partner schools see the jobs intended for my students?

No - if an employer opts to post an opportunity to a specific subset of Partner schools, that posting will not be available to students from non-Partner schools.


Will I see an increase in students requesting Handshake accounts?  What if only some career centers at my school use Handshake while others don’t?

You may notice a slight uptick in user requests, primarily from alumni who might see the announcement or press. If you’d like to ease your workflow, you can turn on “auto approve”, so that anyone with your email domain can automatically be accepted and you don’t have to manually approve or decline. If you decide to turn on “auto approve” and would like to restrict those alumni (or other groups) from having full access, you can use your permission labels on the career center features to do so. We will also be monitoring signup rates to ensure this isn’t a problem, but we don’t expect any dramatic changes on the request front.

For a decentralized campus that doesn’t fully offer Handshake to every student, the experience will remain the same. Students that request access will still go to the main career office for approval. You can also consider using the Custom University Request Message feature to add language to the account signup page that explains which of your students are granted access to Handshake.


Does this impact our students’ privacy in any way? 

No, this will have no impact on your students’ data or privacy. Student privacy and FERPA compliance has always been a core focus of Handshake. All students have the option of remaining completely private on the network and using Handshake only to view and apply to jobs, or to interact solely with their career center. As we’ve evolved and expanded the product, we’ve updated and improved all of our product flows and communications to ensure every student knows exactly what they’re agreeing to.

  • Before we launched our peer learning features widely, we ran user testing with students across the country to ensure they understood their community privacy options clearly. We then beta tested the feature this spring with a few hundred college partners who provided helpful and detailed feedback that we incorporated before rolling out the features more widely this fall.
  • We’ve also built a Trust and Safety Council, comprising privacy experts, privacy lawyers and members of our internal product, support and operations teams, which meets weekly to review product changes and to monitor the launches of new features, like peer messaging, to ensure student privacy and safety. These issues require constant focus and prioritization, but we’re happy to report that Handshake’s rate of fraudulent job postings or moderation flags is far below any other site students are using to find jobs or get career advice.
  • We have made the privacy settings more clear for students when they log on. If a student wants their profile to be included in employer searches, or if they want to help provide advice to other students and alumni, they can make their profile public to employers or the Community. We encourage that, because it provides students with more opportunity – last fall, more than 1.3 million students who made themselves public to employers were messaged directly by companies and nonprofits, leading to many students getting hired by companies they never knew existed. However, it’s always easy for a student to change their settings to private and many of our students do so, particularly when they’re early in their careers.


When was this news announced to university Partners?

We first announced this change to all of our university Partners, starting with a May 29 email from Christine Cruzvergara, our VP of Higher Education & Student Success, and series of videos talking about the Future of Handshake. We also hosted open office hours at NACE and ran 3 additional webinars earlier this summer, focused specifically on Open and the Future of Handshake (June 17, July 9, July 15). We have also been posting about Handshake Open this summer in our product updates through Handshake Announcements in our Community Discussion room. 

That said, if some of our customers weren’t aware of this news before our public announcement, it’s our responsibility to further improve how we are sharing and communicating our plans in advance of major updates. We want to hear from you if there are specific ways you would prefer we connect with our Partner schools in the future beyond our current communications. 


With all this focus on opening Handshake’s network, how are you supporting first-generation students, students of color, and other historically underserved students?

The central “why” behind our move to broaden Handshake’s network is to ensure all students have access to the information, resources, and network they need to launch their career. To that end, we’re standing up our first-ever partnerships with a number of national nonprofits focused on success for traditionally underserved students to and through college, including Braven and BUILD (and many more to come). Braven supports emerging leaders on college campuses with the professional skills, confidence, experience, and network to thrive in today’s competitive world of work through their career-readiness courses. BUILD leverages experiential learning through entrepreneurship to ignite the potential of youth in under-resourced communities, and Handshake will be one of the tools they use to with alumni of their high school program starting this fall.

These nonprofits, and the 10 additional nonprofits we’re currently talking with about partnership, are guided by their commitment to ensuring equity for all students, which is at the center of our shared mission. These partnerships would not be possible without opening Handshake’s network to include all students at all colleges and universities they serve.

We anticipate that among early student adopters of Handshake’s open access there will naturally be students with existing networks and significant resources. We as a company are taking steps to make sure that, just as we’re leveling the playing field around information and access to jobs, we’re also proactively reaching out to and including historically underrepresented students and their support networks to ensure they can leverage Handshake.

Was this article helpful?
1 out of 2 found this helpful
Have more questions? Submit a request