Handshake COVID-19 Higher Ed Recruitment Trends

Data, trends, and insights to help you navigate the shift to digital channels

Update April 21, 2020:

This week, we’re able to share additional insights from our student and employer surveys.

69% of all students surveyed want career services’ help connecting with employers virtually.  This help can come in a few forms:

  • 66% want to know which employers are still hiring
  • 57% are eager to receive personalized messages from employers 
  • 47% want feedback on their online profiles

These factors indicate a huge opportunity for you to make an impact.  While sharing regular updates with students about new opportunities being posted to Handshake is key, you can also help students optimize their profiles to get more proactive employer messages.  Let Handshake do the work for them!

There has never been a better time to use your profile to receive a message on Handshake.  Over the last two months, we’ve seen a 257% increase in employer messages sent to students.  80% of students who fill out three simple profile fields get messaged.  Meanwhile, only about half of messages are actually opened by students.  

Employers find this stat very compelling—in fact, engagement with Handshake messages is 4x higher than regular B2B email1 and 2x higher than LinkedIn InMail2.  That said, we think engagement could be even higher.  Help students capitalize on increased communication from employers by:

Read more in this new report.  This data (along with what we previously reported) was collected from 1,002 students and 192 employers across the Handshake network in March 2020. 

1 https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/knowledge-base/what-is-the-average-b2b-email-open-rate/

2  https://emfluence.com/blog/use-linkedin-sponsored-inmail-next-campaign#gref

Original Post April 6, 2020:

Over the past few weeks, Handshake has been conducting research with students and employers to better understand how these two audiences are responding to the myriad changes in the recruitment and higher education landscape caused by the COVID-19 crisis.  Handshake’s position at the intersection of these fields gives us the unique opportunity to both collect robust data from students and employers and synthesize it together. By sharing these insights, we want to help our higher ed partners understand how they can best position their expertise and support.

Note: We plan to continue to source early recruiting trends from our marketplace and will update this article as more research is synthesized.

Key Student Trends

The search is still on

A majority of students are still active in their job search and are eager to connect with employers through virtual channels.  73% of college seniors are still hunting for a full-time job. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, a majority of seniors were relying primarily on in-person engagements and now need to shift their strategy.

Student job-seeking metrics

We also found that about 11% of students who had secured full-time employment and 23% who had secured an internship had their offer rescinded.  Knowing this is a stressful time for most students, we dug deeper into how your teams can address their most pressing needs.

Students still need their career center

As students make this shift to a remote career search, their top (perceived) concern is the loss of their career center as an easily accessible resource.  Here are the top five ways students told us their career centers can help them:

How university career services can best help students

We’re incredibly grateful to our partners, who have graciously shared their approach to promoting these services to students through virtual channels.  Check out this recent blog post summarizing best practices we documented during our first virtual partner meetup—over 200 career educators attended and many of the needs expressed above were discussed!

You can join our upcoming virtual partner meetups on Thursdays from 11am – 12pm PT using this Zoom link.

Students are eager to succeed 

While students are eager for guidance, they are also feeling motivated to focus on their digital presence.

How students are adapting to the virtual job search

We highly recommend sharing resources from our Get Hired Remotely page to further encourage students to fill out key profile fields to help them get messaged by recruiters, network with other students and alumni, and more. One particularly important piece of data shared in the “key profile fields” blog post is that 80% of students who share their job type, job role, and location preferences get a proactive message from an employer on Handshake.

Finally, while we’ve seen a slight uptick in the number of students who are interested in gig or part-time work, the crisis hasn’t meaningfully changed students’ long-term hopes and plans. For example, while 61% of surveyed students were willing to relocate for their first job out of college before the crisis, 58% maintain that position today.  

And, there are still many who are opting to continue their education over pursuing full time work:  57.6% of students surveyed said they are considering applying for graduate school instead of pursuing a job or internship.

Key Employer Trends

Impact on hiring depends on the industry

Our research with employers unearthed sharp differences in impact by industry.  While a majority of employers report they’re still evaluating changes to their hiring plans, we’re already beginning to see trends in job postings emerge—while some industries are seeing a significant reduction, others remain relatively steady by comparison.

Most and least impacted industries

Meanwhile, while we’ve seen a slight uptick in fully remote job postings across the network, most employers expect their roles that were meant to be on-site to eventually remain on-site—thus, they’re not changing them to be listed as remote.  

Employers are quickly shifting to virtual channels

While most employers report challenges in making the shift to virtual recruiting channels, the vast majority are making this change quickly so that they can continue to make connections with students.

How employers are adapting to virtual recruiting

Reminder: the Handshake Get Hired Remotely page has several articles aimed at helping students succeed in engagements like virtual interviews, virtual events, and more.

Furthermore, we continue to see strong growth in employers using Handshake to message students proactively about opportunities.  

Increase in messaging on Handshake

Last month, we saw over one million messages sent to students in a single week for the first time, and the numbers continue to climb.  This reinforces the importance of students filling out their Handshake profiles.  That profile data—work experiences, organizations, job role and location interests, coursework, and more are regularly used by employers to target their messages.  Read more about key profile fields students should be filling out here.

Full-time jobs and internships are still available

If you’re fielding questions about what kinds of jobs are available—or just want to give students some intel—please share that the top jobs roles being advertised since the beginning of March are:

  • Software Developers & Engineers
  • Business Analysts and Management Consultants
  • Accountants
  • Data Analysts
  • Customer Service Representatives

Or, if you want to demonstrate to students that opportunities and internships are still available, let them know that 82% of all jobs and 52% of all internships being posted right now are for full-time positions. So, there’s still reason to stay positive and engage in your job and internship search!

We will continue to update this article as more data is synthesized.  You can review our initial findings here.