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Monday, Aug 19, 2019

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Ohio University to launch new career network for students, alumni

Handshake provides access to more than 200,000 potential employers


Ohio University is taking its efforts to connect students and alumni with job and internship opportunities as well as potential employers to a whole new level.

OHIO’s Career and Leadership Development Center (CLDC) is replacing one of its primary online career development tools, Bobcat CareerLink, with Handshake, an online career network that is more user-friendly and results-driven and that is expected to increase Bobcats’ and the University’s access and exposure to employers. OHIO’s new Handshake account will be available to employers on Monday, March 26, providing time for the site to be populated with career opportunities before it becomes available to students and alumni on Monday, April 16.

“At the CLDC, we are always looking for ways to better serve Ohio University students and alumni while also building our employer partnerships,” said Erika Peyton, assistant director for employer relations and marketing at the CLDC. “Handshake’s state-of-the-art platform allows us to do all of that by joining a network that includes more than 475 career centers, over 200,000 employers and eight million-plus users.”

Ohio University has been using Bobcat CareerLink, an online database that connects Bobcats with potential employers, since 2010. The database, which is provided to students and alumni free of charge, allows users to access job and internship postings, store application materials, receive information about CLDC events and document their participation in those events. 

According to Peyton, Handshake provides all of the services of Bobcat CareerLink while offering many new features, including a mobile app, as well as being designed to better serve the network’s three groups of users: career service professionals, employers, and OHIO students and alumni.

For OHIO Bobcats

For OHIO students and alumni, Handshake provides access to a much larger network of employers via a more modern and personalized platform where users create their individual profiles.

While nearly 8,000 employers are registered through Bobcat CareerLink, more than 200,000 employers, including all of the Fortune 500 companies, are using Handshake in their recruitment efforts. By joining Handshake, Bobcats will have a direct connection to many of those employers and those employers will have access to Bobcats’ profiles, which they can search like they would on LinkedIn, and to career events on-campus, such as the bi-annual Career and Internship Fairs.

“The developers of Handshake were intentional about working very closely with their users and using their input to guide the development of their system,” Peyton said. “All of the system’s users will notice the results of those efforts, but the student/alumni experience is particularly notable.”

Peyton noted that Handshake uses algorithms that create individualized employment recommendations based on a user’s professional interests, including their field of study and geographical preferences, as well as their previous system usage and search history.

“When users log onto the system, they’re not just seeing the most recent job postings. They’re seeing job postings that are tailored specifically to them,” she said.

Pictured is an example of a student dashboard on Handshake. The content on the dashboard is tailored to a student’s professional interests.

Pictured is an example of a student dashboard on Handshake. The content on the dashboard is tailored to a student’s professional interests.

And, they’ll be seeing that information in a way that is much more contemporary and will be more familiar to them.

“Handshake looks and feels much like social media,” explained Aaron Sturgill, associate director for employer relations at the CLDC. “When users log onto Handshake, the system’s tools are in the places where you’d expect them to be. The site’s navigation is modeled a little bit like Facebook. The homepage will remind users of Pinterest, and the user’s profile will look a lot like LinkedIn. Those elements combine for a much more user-friendly experience.”

For employers

With the number of universities using Handshake on the rise, the network provides employers a growing recruitment pool, an easier way to manage their college recruitment efforts and a strong customer support system.

“Every employer who has a Handshake account has access to every university that has a Handshake account and can select which universities are given access to their job postings – all in one location,” said Sturgill. “This system has great potential to provide access to lots of companies that haven’t seen Ohio University in the past, and it makes it easy for them to add us to their recruiting list.”

Sturgill said he has been talking with many of the employers who already recruit at OHIO about Handshake. All of those individuals, he said, are already using Handshake.

“That’s great,” added Peyton, “because all they will need to do when this change takes effect is go into their Handshake account, select Ohio University as one of their recruitment sites and they’re done.”

For OHIO staff

OHIO’s Handshake account will be used by the CLDC as well as career services personnel in the College of Business, the Russ College of Engineering and Technology and the Scripps College of Communication and is expected to address some significant shortcomings of Bobcat CareerLink.

“For every group using Handshake, they’re going to have a much more user-friendly experience overall,” said Sturgill. “But it’s worth noting that Handshake incorporates features that staff have been requesting.”

For example, while Bobcat CareerLink is equipped for online scheduling of staff appointments, such as career coaching appointments, Sturgill explained that the system does not sync in real time to employees’ Outlook calendars, rendering that function unreliable. Handshake, on the other hand, provides schedule syncing in real time.

Peyton said the Handshake feature she is most excited about is the network’s analytics capability. She described the process of acquiring data from Bobcat CareerLink as cumbersome, adding that when that data is acquired, it’s raw data that requires a significant amount of time and effort to analyze.

“Handshake not only provides the reporting and the raw data, but it also has features that analyze that data for us,” Peyton said. “The Handshake developers incorporated those features in collaboration with another company.” 

Next steps

The CLDC will be communicating directly with Ohio University students and alumni as well as employers in the coming weeks about the switch to Handshake and the steps they need to take. CLDC staff have also created a package of information they are providing to communications and marketing specialists throughout Ohio University, so that those individuals can share this information with the students and alumni with whom they interact. 

In the meantime, students and alumni who are housing application materials such as resumes, reference documents and cover letters exclusively on Bobcat CareerLink should log onto their Bobcat CareerLink account, download those documents and save them to another location. Those documents as well as their Bobcat CareerLink profiles will not be transferred to Handshake.

OHIO’s Handshake account will be available to students and alumni beginning Monday, April 16. Students will have individual accounts set up for them. Those accounts will include some basic information provided by the University Registrar, including the student’s name, major(s), minor(s), college and year. That information will be visible to employers and other Handshake users only after a student has made their Handshake profile public.

Students will access their Handshake accounts at ohio.joinhandshake.com using their OHIO ID and the password connected to that ID and can start creating their profiles as early as April 16. Alumni will be required to register for a Handshake account and will be emailed information on that process.

“The more complete your profile is, the more likely you’re going to be identified by employers and the sooner you’ll start to connect with those employers and job opportunities best suited for you,” Peyton said.

Pictured is an example of a student profile on Handshake. This is the content that potential employers would see once students make their profiles public.

Pictured is an example of a student profile on Handshake. This is the content that potential employers would see once students make their profiles public.

Once they have access to Handshake, Peyton encourages users to take some time to familiarize themselves with the network and all of its features, noting the training courses and video tutorials available via the system’s help center that offers portals designed specifically for career centers, employers and students/alumni.

For more information about Handshake, visit https://www.joinhandshake.com/.

Access to Bobcat CareerLink accounts ends June 30

Ohio University’s contract with Symplicity, the company behind the CLDC’s Bobcat CareerLink, ends on Saturday, June 30. 

OHIO students and alumni have until June 30 to download any documents they have on Bobcat CareerLink, including resumes, cover letters and reference materials, and save them to another location. Those documents as well as their Bobcat CareerLink profiles will not be transferred to Handshake or accessible after June 30.