‘Handshake’ platform provides new edge to recruiting

University Career Services Director Jodi Chowen was actively involved in the university’s change from BYU Bridge to Handshake. (Lexie Flickinger)

Read or listen to a Portuguese translation.

The handshake is a universal sign of understanding or agreement. For a college undergraduate, the best handshakes are ones that end with full-time job offers or opportunities for career advancements.

Handshake, a new recruitment platform, is a networking tool BYU adopted to help students find life-changing opportunities.

Handshake connects BYU students and alumni with employers to provide both job and internship opportunities. Handshake has over 3,650 jobs currently listed specifically for BYU students, according to its website.

University Career Services Director Jodi Chowen was actively involved in the university’s change from BYU Bridge to Handshake and said this new recruiting platform will give an advantage to all students on campus.

Bridge, BYU’s previous recruiting platform, suffered from various glitches, Chowen said. Recruiters often struggled to post their jobs through the site, which caused some employers to ignore the platform. This led to students missing opportunities they might have had.

With Handshake, the process for employers to log in and send job listings to BYU is easier and more efficient, according to Chowen. 

“The whole philosophy and decision to use Handshake was to benefit the students. The system was built to be very user-friendly and clean,” she said.

Handshake was built by students, for students. The creators were three engineering graduates — Garrett Lord, Ben Christensen and Scott Ringwelski — from Michigan Tech University. Thanks to the rural location, the Houghton-based university rarely received visitors from major companies.

Lord, Christensen and Ringwelski decided to build a comprehensive recruiting platform to help students in expanding their network and “democratizing opportunity,” according to Handshake’s website.

“Handshake was really intended to leverage more jobs for students, and because of the way the system is set up, we are getting more jobs than ever,” Chowen said. “Students have more opportunities now than they did on BYU Bridge.”  

Employers can also download résumé books complete with the résumés of every applicant, and search through specific filters to find potential employees. Chowen said students should fill out their Handshake profiles to make themselves more visible.

“It’s important for students to understand that if you are really intent about getting a job or internship, you need to fill out your profile and get involved because not only will you get a chance to search for and connect with employers, but employers will search for and connect with you,” Chowen said.

Assistant Dean of the Marriot School Mike Roberts also said “every student — even freshmen” should start familiarizing themselves with Handshake. He said the recruiting service can help students find greater opportunities in the future.

“Even if their résumé hasn’t developed as much as others, getting familiar with the platform and learning when career fairs and other events are is imperative to every student’s success during their BYU career and after graduation,” Roberts said.

Career Mentor Camille Haynie sits in one of Handshake’s yellow hand-shaped chairs at the Wilkinson Student Center. (Lexie Flickinger)

BYU Career Services set up booths and yellow hand-shaped chairs across campus to promote Handshake.

Melinda Maughan, the director of Recruiting Operations in the BYU Marriott School of Business, has worked hands-on with Handshake and said a small percentage of students have begun using the service.

Maughan said 13 percent of BYU students have logged into Handshake, but only half of that percentage have created a profile. She said these numbers are extremely alarming because “60 percent of recruiting happens within the first six weeks of school.”

Maughan said logging in, creating a profile and searching for jobs can help calibrate Handshake to students’ interests, strengths and skills.

“Handshake becomes smarter the more you use it,” Maughan said. “Just how Amazon makes recommendations based on your spending habits, Handshake makes recommendations based on the information you post on your profile and the searches you conduct when logged in.”

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