Handshake, an early career network, has secured USD80 million in a venture financing round and is set to invest a tranche of the funding in the UK, supporting early careers recovery post-Covid.
The new funding round increases Handshake’s investment total to USD235.5 million and the company’s valuation to more than USD1.5 billion. This new investment reflects Handshake’s unprecedented growth, unparalleled student adoption, and a rapidly expanding market opportunity to help employers and universities embrace the virtual future of graduate recruitment.
This Series E round was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Spark Capital with participation from all prior investors: EQT Ventures, GGV, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Imaginable Futures, Reach Capital, True Ventures, and Kleiner Perkins. Handshake also welcomed first time investors Coatue Management and Valiant Peregrine Fund.
The Handshake platform aims to tear down structural barriers in the UK jobs market and help recruiters proactively engage with candidates based on their potential and aptitude for a role rather than their background or existing connections. This means universities and students can unlock social capital and access to employment opportunities, regardless of gender, race, socioeconomic status, or type of educational institution attended.
The funding round will allow Handshake to continue to invest in creating new platform features that will further help students develop the relationships and skills they need to build their career. A tranche of this venture financing will be invested back into an Early Talent Recovery Fund, launched exclusively in the UK.
The Fund will cover costs for 100,000 students to attend free virtual careers fairs, and Student Societies, which have been badly hit during the pandemic, will also be able to access funding. University careers centres will also be offered subsidised access to Handshake, with up to two years’ free use of the platform for thirty UK universities and covering all set-up costs.
Existing Handshake partners in the UK will be also able to tap into a Professional Development Fund, offering free access to Continued Professional Development (CPD) opportunities and to major conferences.
The Fund is launched as the nation faces an increasingly tough jobs market – figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) projected potential unemployment at 11% in Q1 2022, in its worst case scenario, which is likely to present particular challenges for those looking to enter the workforce.
Dimitar Stanimiroff, General Manager EMEA at Handshake, says: “We are committed to giving something back to the UK at a challenging time for students, graduates and university careers services. Our Early Talent Recovery fund, which is made possible by our latest funding round, aims not only to step up and support young people in the wake of Covid, but in the long-term, play a role in helping to break down barriers between great talent and great employers.
“We look forward to many successful years ahead in the UK working in partnership with universities and employers. This new round of venture financing will help us reinvest in making our platform the best it can possibly be and fuel sustainable growth.”
Alastair Mitchell Partner at EQT Ventures says: “We’re proud to support Handshake as it continues in its mission to democratise employment opportunities for graduates. The battle for up-and-coming graduate talent is core to building a diverse and representative workforce for the future and, with Handshake, students and employers can discover each other sooner and begin to build the relationships needed for a fruitful career.”