This Gen Z Jobs Site Wants To Give Employers A TikTok Alternative

An increasing number of young workers are turning to TikTok to share tips on navigating the professional world, with over 2.6 million posts using the hashtag #WorkLife. These videos cover a wide range of topics including advice on taking time off, humorous discussions about workplace phrases like "Bare Minimum Mondays," and glimpses into the daily routines at companies such as Google and Deloitte. There has even been a surge in videos capturing the moment of getting laid off, creating new challenges for employers.

On the other hand, Handshake, a popular job search platform for college students, has traditionally functioned as a job board without incorporating video content. In response to this, Handshake is launching a new "feed"-like interface and video features aimed at providing a more engaging experience for Gen Z users. This move is intended to facilitate direct communication between companies and young candidates in a manner that aligns with their preferred social media style. Garrett Lord, Handshake’s cofounder and CEO, views this as a means to "level the information playing field," by centralizing job opportunities, career fairs, and discussions.

With employers increasingly utilizing social media to create "day in the life" videos and promotional content targeting young job seekers, it has become challenging for candidates to locate these videos amid the vast array of platforms and content available. Handshake's new features hope to address this by providing a centralized platform where candidates can easily access such videos and gain valuable insights into potential employers.  

HC CC TikTok correction

Rolling out the new design amid a tumultuous job market and continued layoffs—particularly in the tech and media sectors—is a feature, not a bug, Lord says. While full-time job posts on Handshake, like many job boards, were down 24% in 2023 thanks in part to the tech sector’s slowdown, and revenues were just above $120 million—up 10% from 2022—Lord says he’s continuing to see “an incredible amount of demand” for college students. The new features could also help less buzzy employers find tech workers concerned about job security in that industry.

“Some companies are doubling down in this environment because Big Tech isn’t hiring as much,” Lord says. “That could mean there are more great software engineers for automotive or finance companies to hire.”

Handshake’s new features include a redesigned app—which only advertised job postings and recruiting events before—that now acts as a scrollable feed similar to other social media platforms. It allows students to swipe through job postings, events such as career fairs, alumni reviews and advice, as well as short-form videos created by employers, another new tool. “This is very much in the zeitgeist of what students want and expect,” Lord says.

The idea is to provide job seekers with a more engaging view of the companies they’re applying to and interviewing for—one that goes beyond bullet points on a job board or a slickly produced video of managers boasting about strong company culture. For Gen Z, video is king, says Adam Robinson, founder and CEO at recruiting software company Hireology. “More often than not, the first page a job seeker views after looking at the list of jobs are the case studies and videos,” he says.

Yet that also means it’s a high-stakes move for employers, one that can backfire if the videos come across as too promotional or lacking in credibility. Young job seekers, says Robinson, “can see through a scripted, choreographed and overly produced video” with surprising ease.

Arizona State University junior Mehul Kumar Srivastava says videos have been key when looking for internships. “Job descriptions don’t really tell you what’s actually happening at a company,” the computer science major says, adding that the “day in the life of an intern” videos show him what to expect. “That’s really motivating, because you want to be there.”

Christine Cruzvergara, chief education strategy officer at Handshake, says the “feed” and social media-style scroll features are designed to add a level of serendipity to college students’ job search process, giving those who may not know what type of career they want or what employer they want to work for a way to discover new roles and companies. “The old setup put a lot more onus on the student to know what they wanted to find and to have a clear idea of what they want to look for in a specific job,” she says.

Handshake’s new interface uses students’ profiles—their major, selected location, companies of interest and the college they attend—to curate the jobs and posts they see in their feeds, showing students employers they may not have considered before or connecting them with alumni for advice. For employers, the new interface is designed to connect employers with a wider range of candidates.

Companies including TikTok, Teach for America and L’Oréal have been testing out Handshake’s short-form video option, which is being released Tuesday as an early access program that all of its 900,000 employers on the platform can now request to join at no added cost.

At L’Oréal, group vice president of talent acquisition Emma Shuttleworth says the move is part of a larger effort at the company to attract young workers. She says the marketing team enlists a Gen Z taskforce to help inform young applicants and make videos they’ll actually watch. On Handshake, the beauty company shares videos about their hiring process and longer-form “masterclass” videos about specific skills such as how to run a new marketing campaign. Shuttleworth hopes “it allows us to be at the forefront of students’ minds,” she says, “and in front of students who maybe have never considered applying to L’Oréal before.”

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