Job hunting has changed over the years. Gone are the days of printing and mailing a letter of inquiry or scanning the classified ads in the newspaper. Gone, too – at least for the time being – are networking events and traditional career fairs where social distancing is tricky.
It’s necessary to have the best digital tools available to navigate the reality of our online-first job market. That’s why UNLV soon will be rolling out Handshake, one of the leading online employment portals on the web (don’t worry: no actual handshakes required).
Handshake is similar to career networking sites like LinkedIn but allows more, and more specific, job matches through advanced filtering and a focus on specific skill sets. It also uses algorithms to push appropriate jobs toward students and simplifies the process for employers to find the best candidates nationwide.
UNLV Handshake will replace a number of platforms currently serving students and alumni starting July 1. UNLV’s Hire-a-Rebel, as well as the independent platforms used by the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality, Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering, and Lee Business School, will all transition to UNLV Handshake simultaneously.
“Most campuses experience a three-fold increase in employers seeking students and alumni once they join Handshake,” said Eileen McGarry, executive director of UNLV career services. “That will be exceptionally helpful as we rebound from the current economic downturn due to COVID-19.”
The move will align UNLV with sister universities such as UNR, Nevada State College, and Arizona State University, all of which are already using Handshake.
UNLV has loaded 13,000 employers into Handshake so far, McGarry said, and is in the process of recruiting more. Employers can log on and create a profile on the portal beginning June 1; alumni and students can begin job hunting July 1.
Handshake will be the portal through which UNLV employees can find student workers, too. Many of those positions often turn into careers.
Rae Alfonso, ’18 BS Graphic Design and Media, found a job as a student worker at UNLV online.
“I was taking advantage of my resources,” said Alfonso. “I wanted a job that was related to my major, graphic design. I was really particular about working in my field rather than at something that would just make money.”
The strategy paid off. Alfonso landed a job as a student designer for Enrollment and Student Services. Today she is full-time with the department.
“I’m always learning with this job,” Alfonso added. “I get to stay creative and do what I like.”
But student workers and UNLV employers won’t be the only beneficiaries of Handshake. Career service professionals across campus are anticipating its advantages, as well.
“Handshake gives Lee Business School and UNLV the opportunity to play in other markets where we didn’t have an entry point previously,” said Joe Protopapa, director of career and professional development with the Lee Business School.
For example, business recruiters from other markets may not have made a trip to Las Vegas when they could travel to a city like Los Angeles, which offers access to graduates from many more universities at once. But current economic realities have become a catalyst for even more online recruitment and hiring. As travel budgets get cut, more and more companies will turn to finding and vetting candidates via the web.
“It gives students access that they wouldn’t have otherwise, unless they spent hours and hours combing the Internet,” Protopapa said.
Marian Mason, College of Engineering career services coordinator, agreed.
"Handshake will democratize job opportunities for our students, regardless of where they live,” she said. “Students and recent grads will now be able to share advice and learn from each other. First-gen and impoverished students who have more of a struggle finding employment will now be able to better market themselves and track down jobs, too.”
For markets like hospitality, which is recovering from the coronavirus crisis, Handshake can be a game-changer.
Hospitality students and graduates may consider applying their skills in other industries while the market recovers, said Maggie Hausbeck, executive director of alumni engagement and career services for the College of Hospitality.
Ranked among the top programs in the nation, in a typical year Hospitality has more than 100 national and international resort brands vying for its graduates. Recruiting will resume one day, Hausbeck said, and it's the university’s job to help students maintain industry connections in the meantime.
“Handshake is a tremendous opportunity for our students in terms of access to positions,” she added. “People need to have as many options available to them now more than ever.”
Employers seeking to hire UNLV talent can register for Handshake.