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Handshake CEO: Lots of hiring demand for college grads as COVID shakes labor market

·2-min read

Even as economists bemoan a shortage of workers in key sectors as an after-effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, newly-minted college graduates appear to entering an encouraging market for jobs.

New data out from early-career network and recruiting platform Handshake show an 81% jump in job postings in March alone, something Handshake CEO Garrett Lord said was a positive sign for a labor market roiled by the virus.

“When we first entered COVID we saw a secular kind of decline and in industries like hospitality and transportation. On the other side of the spectrum, we saw industries like healthcare expand their recruiting efforts to hire both interns and full-time graduates after college,” Lord told Yahoo Finance.

“Peaking in April, we saw job postings 50% lower than in 2019 year on year. We’ve subsequently recovered to only being about 10% down in job postings year on year,” he added.

Lord tells Yahoo Finance Live that the mission of Handshake — which just raised $80 million at a valuation of $1.5 billion — revolves around helping solve many of the inequality in the college recruiting landscape today, particularly when it comes to underemployment.

Calling the college recruitment process "inefficient," Lord cited data showing that “43% of college students are graduating underemployed, meaning they’re working a job that didn’t require a college degree,” he said.

 “There’s $10 billion a year spent by companies trying to find and recruit college students," he added.

Apply now with woman using her smartphone on a couch
Apply now with woman using her smartphone on a couch

Lord notes that many companies could not recruit on college campuses due to the pandemic, so many turned to Handshake to connect with prospective employees. The CEO said that 97 million connections were facilitated between students and employers during this overall calendar year. 

As far as keeping up momentum goes, Lord tells Yahoo Finance that Handshake is focusing on what makes it different from its larger competitors, like LinkedIn.

“We’re kind of purpose-built for this experience around launching yourself into your, into your career. You know, we like to say there’s no luck, no experience, and really no connections required," he added. 

Despite the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lord believes that it has shown the resilience of today’s college students.

"I think it's a very anxious time for most college students in America today. There's a lot of information out there and they're trying to sort out, what industry do they want to work in," Lord said. 

“A lot of students have kind of proven that they’re very resilient and that they’re determined to try to break into a career opportunity. So we’re seeing in terms of our data is a lot of hiring demand for graduates today.”

Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.

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