New Job Search Platform Connects Students with Employers

Handshake is a user-friendly system for students and alumni to find job opportunities in their fields.

Handshake training
Handshake hosted a training seminar at GW to teach local employers how to use the new system. (William Atkins/GW Today)
July 07, 2017

By Kristen Mitchell

George Washington University launched a new user-friendly platform to help students and recent alumni connect with employers, manage career development and browse open positions in their field.

Handshake, a replacement for GWork, went live in late June. The San Francisco-based job search and career platform connects college students with employers around the country. It is easy to use and is expected to expand the number of job opportunities available to GW user students, said Rachel Brown, assistant provost for university Career Services.

Employers who might not have actively recruited at GW in the past will be able to easily market open positions to Colonials.

“As an employer who may be new to GW, if you have an account in Handshake, you can very easily post jobs. You don’t have to do anything other than click GW if you want a job to be posted at GW,” Ms. Brown said.

After switching to Handshake, other universities like the University of Miami, Stanford University and Boston University have reported an increase in overall job postings, Ms. Brown said.

“Every school has said that Handshake expands the base of jobs and opportunities outside of the geographical locale,” said Michael McKenzie, managing director for career learning and experience. “We’re constantly working to expand that, this should just make it easier.”

One feature that put Handshake ahead of other platforms is that it gives users suggested job openings based on information in their profiles, Mr. McKenzie said. This customization will help them find the best opportunities available for them, he said.

“The design is to help get the most relevant information in front of students based on information on what people with similar profiles from class year to majors or even student groups they might be involved in,” he said. “We feel that is important because sometimes students can be overwhelmed with all the information they have. Those features weren’t things we were seeing in other systems and it motivated the move as well.”

Handshake is used by more than 350 universities and 180,000 companies, but GW is the first university in the D.C. region to use the system. On June 28, Handshake hosted a training seminar at GW to teach local employers how to use the new system.

The switch to Handshake was predicated by a year-long process by the university-wide Career Services Council that includes career services professionals from across the university, students and faculty and the Center for Career Services. Members reviewed and tested various platforms and decided to propose a switch to Handshake to Provost Forrest Maltzman, who approved.

Basic information from GWork profiles active in the past year will automatically be transferred to Handshake, and users will have the opportunity to upload resumes, cover letters and build profiles similar to a LinkedIn account. Users will be able to access their documents and activity history in GWork until Nov. 1.

“They will still have a couple of months where they will be able to pull their resumes, see the history of what jobs they applied to,” Ms. Brown said. “We think that is really important, for users to have a bridge, but we fully expect once they’re in Handshake they’ll be ready to go.”

Students will also use Handshake to search for on-campus job openings and Federal Work-Study Program positions.

Recent alumni who were not active on GWork but are interested in creating a Handshake account can contact GW Career Services by sending an email to [email protected].  Career Services will verify users in the system and provide access to job postings.

Handshake will be a comprehensive resource for students and one system to help them see career-related events happening across the university, Mr. McKenzie said. Students can sign up for events and career coaching appointments, access the on-campus recruiting program, review career resources relevant to them and receive the latest information from GW Career Services and the employers they follow.


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