Coronavirus resource spotlight: virtual college recruiting

The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically reshaped the world of recruiting, impacting both employers and potential candidates, including college students. Here’s a look at a new suite of products that aims to ease the recruiting process for talent and hiring managers.

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What it is: Handshake aims to connect college students with internships and jobs, having partnered with over 1,000 universities and colleges and 500,000 employers–including Target, Amazon and P&G–to help more than 17 million students with their job search. However, most college recruiting events, such as career fairs, have depended on in-person interactions, and thus, have been cancelled in the wake of the pandemic. To fill that gap, Handshake recently rolled out a number of new digital options to help students with the job search process and employers with their early career hires.

“We wanted to make sure we created a full end-to-end virtual solution for our recruiters and universities to be able to support students in all their efforts to find employment,” says Christine Cruzvergara, Handshake’s vice president of higher education and student success, about the company’s new virtual recruiting suite of products. The first component, virtual career fairs, rolled out last month.

According to a recent survey conducted by Handshake, 38% of students who have participated in online recruitment events have a difficult time finding the best way to network at these events and 35% are frustrated by the challenges posed by the virtual workplace.

(Image courtesy of Handshake)

With the virtual career fairs tool, universities can invite employers within certain sectors to engage with students in dynamic group and one-on-one settings. Cruzvergara says Handshake designed the solution to offer the same value proposition and experience as traditional in-person events but to also maximize the advantages of a virtual setting, such as avoiding lines.

Handshake has also been working to make the recruiting process easier for employers, such as with a new virtual event module that enables them to host their own virtual events across multiple institutions to be able to build meaningful connections with students. Other components include better search functionality to find candidates across 1,000-plus institutions based on the criteria and qualifications of their open positions.

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Why it’s helpful: These tools will not only be useful during the pandemic, Cruzvergara says, as the virtual options provide the opportunity for employers to find more diverse employees.

“Before COVID-19, we were already seeing a trend of employers moving towards more digital strategies, in large part because it meant that they could diversify their candidate pool more. COVID-19 didn’t fundamentally change the direction people were going in, it just accelerated it,” she says.

Related: Why HR needs skills-based hiring now

The solution can also help employers reach early career talent where they are: online. According to Handshake’s student survey, 91% of students would consider working at a fully virtual job after graduating, and 54% of students want their schools to advise them on how to best search for remote internships and jobs.

Cruzvergara says there are three main conditions students want in order to feel comfortable and prepared to go into a remote work environment, which employers can emphasize with video interactions during the recruitment process.

“Students want to know that they have a supervisor, that there is going to be dedicated one-on-one time with that supervisor and that there are really clear expectations communicated by the supervisor of the team that they are joining,” she says.

Skyler Zur
Skyler Zur was an HRE summer intern.