Now Valued at $3.5B, Handshake Is Poised to Be Gen Z’s LinkedIn

This is Handshake’s second round of funding in just eight months. The round coincides with a hiring spree to keep up with surging demand.
Written by Ellen Glover
January 20, 2022Updated: January 20, 2022
San Francisco-based Handshake raised $200M Series F, hits $3.5B valuation, hiring
Photo: Handshake / LinkedIn

Handshake, a rising star in the job recruitment and networking space, just raised $200 million in fresh funding from VC heavyweights Coatue Management and Valiant Peregrine Fund, along with Base10’s Advancement Initiative and others. This Series F brings the unicorn’s valuation to a hefty $3.5 billion — more than double what it was just eight months ago

To meet rising demand, Handshake says it doubled its headcount last year, and appears to be in the midst of another hiring spree right now, with more than 80 open tech positions at its San Francisco headquarters.

In fact, Handshake has been pretty busy over the last year, and claims to have forged nearly 2 million relationships between employers and candidates through its platform. It also claims to work with some 650,000 companies, and every Fortune 500 company. For a young startup, that kind of impact is quite an achievement. It also stands to disrupt an industry that has largely been driven by one major player: LinkedIn.

Right now, the status quo for finding a job means calling out what you’ve already done and networking — a model LinkedIn leans on heavily, and to great effect. But if you’re a recent college graduate, a person re-entering the workforce after a long time away, or someone who’s trying to switch up their career, this method doesn’t really work for you. 

By contrast, Handshake says it is designed to bring candidates, employers and educational institutions to one place where they can connect, focusing on where a candidate is going, instead of where they’ve been. The platform offers everything from virtual career fairs to one-on-one video chats with recruiters to ensure that, even if a candidate has no network going into Handshake, they will leave with one. Like LinkedIn, Handshake also offers an educational component, connecting students with education providers so they can learn the skills required for a specific job they want. 

At the end of the day, the goal is to offer a win-win-win solution for students, educational institutions and employers alike: Students will get the jobs they want, educators will have an easier time reaching prospective students, and employers will reach more quality candidates that they may not have found through sites like LinkedIn or Indeed. 

“Millions of people, particularly those just starting out their careers, have been left behind by a purely networking-based approach to discovering talent,” Handshake’s co-founder and CEO Garrett Lord said in a statement. “Our growth reflects a realization 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.”

Looking ahead, Handshake says it would like to use some of this fresh capital to focus more on helping students from underrepresented backgrounds find better job opportunities. To that end, this investment from Base10 will be used to create a scholarship program aimed at historically Black colleges and universities, as well as an internship program. The startup will also use the money to expand its footprint both in the U.S. and internationally.

Jobs at Handshake

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