From education to employment

No Network Required: Handshake Raises $200m (£145m) to Help Gen Z Launch Careers

Handshake, the largest early career network, today announced a Series F round of $200 million (£145 million) at a valuation of $3.5 billion (£2.5 billion)—more than double its valuation in 2021. The round, led by Coatue Management and Valiant Peregrine Fund with participation from Base10’s Advancement Initiative, among other investors, reflects unprecedented demand amidst a generational shift in the way people start, jump start, or restart their careers.

“Millions of people just starting out their careers have been left behind by a purely network-based approach to discovering talent,” said Garrett Lord, co-founder and CEO of Handshake. “Our growth reflects a realisation from the world’s largest employers that they can no longer afford to leave talent on the table by tapping known ‘connections’ and following a traditional recruiting playbook.”

Unlike traditional professional networking sites, Handshake helps students and alumni build new relationships and skills, instead of just making connections to people they already know. Through virtual career fairs, 1:1 video chats, and direct messaging with recruiters or employed peers with shared interests, over 1.7 million relationships were forged between employers and candidates on the platform last year.

As a result, more students are using Handshake than any other platform to build relationships with employers. According to a recent Handshake Student Trends Survey, 37% more students used Handshake to build relationships than LinkedIn and 106% more than Indeed. That’s why employers like Google, Ford, Bank of America, EY and Nike, along with healthcare systems, nonprofits, and even sports teams, are using Handshake to proactively find top early talent from all backgrounds. By helping companies nurture relationships through hiring, Handshake’s revenue doubled in 2021 and will shortly eclipse $100 million (£72 million).

To meet demand, Handshake doubled its global headcount to 500 people in 2021, including several senior executive hires. This month, Valerie Capers Workman, VP of People and Associate General Counsel at Tesla, joined Handshake as Chief Legal Officer, while Dr. Michael L. Lomax, the President and CEO of UNCF, recently joined its Board of Directors. 

Handshake will use the new capital to deepen how it helps students build relationships and skills, including new ventures to help students earn the credentials they need to prove they have the job-ready skills for today’s most in-demand careers. Funds will also be used to expand Handshake’s footprint internationally, while carrying out its ambitious mission to dismantle outdated recruiting practices that often exclude candidates from underrepresented backgrounds. 

The funds will also support Handshake in continuing to invest in its UK team and improving the product, allowing the company to expand its education engineering team. This means the company increases its ability to allocate engineering resources to develop and deepen connections between universities, their students and employers, working in partnership with university partners to develop tools to meet their service needs now and in the future.

Furthermore, Handshake is set to increase the size of its Employer Go-To-Market team by five times, meaning more premium employers are likely to join the platform, offering more opportunities for students.

Finally, Handshake is also launching its Careers2032 initiative in February, which sees it bring together Careers Services staff, employers, and students across the UK in discussion to explore what the coming decade will look like for the sector. The subsequent report will examine how Careers Services will continue to act as a lynchpin in student and graduate career exploration and recruitment, meeting future need and applying technology to democratise opportunity for people starting out in their career. In addition to Coatue, Valiant and Base 10, investors include Spark, Lightspeed, True Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, EQT Ventures, GGV Capital, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Emerson Collective. 

Related Articles