Career Services rolls out new networking platform for getting hired

BY
MANAGING NEWS EDITOR

Career Fair
KIRK SMITH/THE REVIEW
Students can now virtually network with employers without any hassle.

The work of three former students from Michigan Technological University is how university students will now be getting hired, David Shull, director of customer success at Handshake, said.

“Around two and a half years ago, the founders realized students were dissatisfied with the awkward gap that existed between Facebook and LinkedIn,” Shull said. “They decided to instill something that would help solve the problem.”

This summer, the Career Services Center (CSS) introduced Handshake as the new platform for the Blue Hen Careers portal.

Lynn Sydnor-Epps, interim director, said the CSS realized the previous system, Symplicity, lacked in several key areas, and the only way to provide a premium experience for students and employers was to explore new options.

“Symplicity was a static platform while Handshake is responsive to students’ particular career interests and potential job opportunities,” Heather Tansley, communications specialist, said.

Sydnor-Epps said Handshake uses algorithms to track what kind of jobs would best fit a student’s academic profile. Students can also follow employers to keep up with new job postings that would be much harder to find prior to the switch.

Tansley also highlighted the new platform’s ability to be used on different devices. The more user-friendly interface, which features a scrolling news feed on the homepage, is reminiscent of social media networks, which are what students are used to navigating, she said.

Shull said the founders, Garrett Lord, Ben Christensen and Scott Ringwelski, kept in mind how social media networks, like Twitter, work when creating Handshake.

“We still use a fresh approach and keep modern technology developments in mind when helping students and employers connect,” Shull said.

On the employer side, Handshake allows companies to connect with multiple schools at once. Shull said many employers have teams of around 20 people to post job openings on different university career portals. This platform eliminates the need for that—employers can instead create one posting and choose which schools they wish to share it with.

Tansley said the transition from Symplicity to Handshake was much smoother than expected. Besides some basic maintenance, like re-uploading a résumé to the new platform, there wasn’t much work that had to be put in on the students’ end.

As of mid-September, around 100 new events were scheduled using the new system, 2,000 job postings were created and 240 employers signed up to attend the Fall Career Fair, Sydnor-Epps said.

“Any transition sees challenges, but the move from Symplicity to Handshake was almost seamless,” Sydnor-Epps said.

Shull said the Handshake team tries to be as hands-on as possible when assisting universities during the transition period. This includes helping move student data from the previous portal and coaching career services centers employees through highly complex technological parts of the switch.

Shull said students can also reach out for technical support directly through the portal. They can live chat with a Handshake support engineer at any time of the day if problems arise.

“One of our early taglines was, ‘Built by students for students,’” Shull said. “I think that really speaks to what Handshake is about.”

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