Career Services gives students a “hand” in their job search

Career Services held a launch party for the new Handshake program in the Marshall Student Center on Wednesday. The program is a replacement for Employ-A-Bull. ORACLE PHOTO/NICOLE CATE

On Wednesday, USF’s Career Services launched its partnership with Handshake, a new career-matching service for students. The event was celebrated with a launch party and internship fair in the Marshall Student Center (MSC). 

Gone are the days of Employ-A-Bull with its specific search queries and outdated software. 

Handshake is structured more like a social network, learning students’ interests as they use it and matching them to jobs based on their activity in the system.

Peter Thorsett, communications and marketing officer for Career Services, compares the software to Amazon’s consumer-based technology. 

“The system is learning you and matching you to the right opportunities,” Thorsett said.

“If Handshake is picking up that you are always clicking on jobs that seem to be categorized in (a particular) way, it’ll start recommending those to you,” Russ Coughenour, Assistant Vice President of Career Services, said. “So it does some work for you, in a funny kind of way.”

Handshake differs from LinkedIn, another career-matching service, in that it maintains a more university-centered focus.

“There’s a lot more content and jobs and opportunities that are USF-focused,” Randy Bitting, who works with University Partnerships for Handshake, said.

Handshake requires students to submit their resumes for approval before they can apply for jobs through the site. Once the resume is approved, any future changes made to it do not require another approval.

“(Students) need to upload that to Handshake for us to review, so the sooner they do that, then they’re not in a (time) crunch,” Thorsett said.

Thorsett recommended that students who need help with their resumes visit the Career Express in Career Services to have their resumes critiqued.

Emily Woodward, an intern with Career Services and a Career Peer Adviser, said that Handshake is more user-friendly than Employ-A-Bull.

“Employ-A-Bull felt a little disconnected because it was a little bit harder to use, and so with Handshake … (employers) can view your profile and it’s a little bit more personal,” she said.

Some students said they were excited to build Handshake profiles that will attract employers.

“(Handshake) is pretty good,” Vishrant Panchal, a master’s student in engineering management, said. “Actually it converts all of our skills and events we have attended into my resume, which builds a better profile for the student.” 

Suchismita Bakshi, a first-year student majoring in business analytics and information systems, said that the ease of interacting with employers is one of her favorite aspects of Handshake. 

“I think (Handshake) is a good thing because we will have opportunity to…interact with other companies and we can put our resume on a platform that can be displayed to the employers,” she said.

There are many employers on Handshake. According to Thorsett, all of the Fortune 100 companies and 97 percent of the Fortune 500 companies are represented in the system, giving USF students access to a wealth of opportunities.

Coughenour advises students to be active on Handshake so the software will learn each individual’s interests and match them to relevant jobs.

“The more you use the Handshake product, the better it will get to know you. And so, a person who would only log on and use it once, it’s not (going to) do all these ‘magical’ things for that person,” he said.

Career Services has high hopes for Handshake and its ability to benefit students. Thorsett encouraged students to voice any problems they may encounter with the program to Career Services so that those concerns can be communicated to Handshake.

“We just hope that the students like the product,” Coughenour said. “We have every reason in the world to believe that it fits their culture, their style, what they’re looking for from a software interface and we just hope that they enjoy it and like it and use it.”