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Graduate recruitment platform Handshake becomes the latest HR tech unicorn

No connections, no problem with Handshake.

Allie Nawrat

Checkr funding
Credit: FotoArtist via Twenty20.

Following a $80m Series E round, Handshake has been valued at $1.5bn. Unleash Your Recruitment

  • Meet Handshake, the newest HR tech unicorn.
  • Handshake is a networking and recruitment platform specifically aimed at professionals in the early stages of their careers.

Handshake, a professional networking and recruitment platform aimed at students and graduates, has closed a $80m Series E round.

According to a company blog post, this brings its total value to $1.5bn, meaning Handshake joins the likes of Phenom, Alan and Lattice in becoming a HR tech unicorn.

The Series E round was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Spark Capital. Other participating investors include EQT Ventures, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and True Ventures.

Handshake’s platform was created by three friends – Garrett Lord (CEO), Scott Ringwelski (CTO), and Ben Christensen (who serves on the board) – while they were at university with the aim of disrupting the professional networking space to the benefit of students and graduates.

Lord explained: “Most career platforms are geared towards mid-career professionals who already have jobs and connections. 

“Handshake is different: we’re built from the ground up to focus on the unique needs of people just starting their careers.”  

Its motto is that getting a great job and building a career should be possible without any connections, experience, or luck.

A bright future for Handshake

Like all companies, Handshake was challenged by the pandemic. As traditional in-personal job fairs could not happen, Handshake pivoted to digital and built a virtual recruiting solution.

It claims that this tool facilitated over 98 million US student-to-employer interactions in the past year.

On the back of this success, this funding will be used to further “accelerate our efforts to build a world-class team and deliver on our promise to build a platform that transforms the career journey for all early talent”, in the words Lord.

Handshake particularly plans to focus more on helping those from underrepresented backgrounds who are still struggling to find the right jobs.

“Our goal is to make the entire career journey—from first internship to first job to the first promotion—more equitable for all,” writes Lord.

Ultimately, Handshake is on a mission to “help employers build the workforce of the 21st century”, according to Lord.

[Read more: Virtual recruitment will outlive COVID-19 – here’s why]

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