Stem the tide on netpotism

Jul 27, 2021 | Diversity

Dimitar Stanimiroff, GM EMEA at Handshake, calls for fair and effective recruitment in a digital world.

We can all agree that the last 12 months have been challenging for students and employers alike.

Campuses have closed their doors, exams have been cancelled, recruitment has slowed and opportunities for work experience and internships have quickly diminished.

But, despite the challenges, for many the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for positive change – and we have seen both universities and employers adapt at speed.

And, positively, the quick adoption of digital tools has meant that employers and graduates can now interact – and conduct interviews – wherever they are in the world.

What’s more, as remote or hybrid working looks set to continue for the long term, geographic location, or place of study, is no longer a stumbling block to employment.

With these positive changes comes additional responsibility for employers though.

While tech can be a huge leveller for the industry, there is a risk that it is used merely to replicate existing ways of recruiting students and recent graduates that were already well past their sell-by date.

Business leaders relying heavily on existing contacts, word of mouth and where candidates went to school to fuel recruitment pipelines, ought to be a thing of the past and equal access of opportunity should finally be a reality.

But Handshake’s newest report into the market has found that the pandemic has seen many employers swapping one closed network with another, relying on existing contacts, friends, family and colleagues to connect and meet potential employees, even online.

Enabling employers to reach candidates more directly, based on their suitability for the job above all else, will be a key component in making the long-term shifts brought about by the pandemic positive for everyone, rather than the lucky few.

And while there’s often an assumption than anyone under 25 is equipped with all the best tech and knowledge available, digital exclusion remains an issue across the board – and has been having an impact on the interview and recruitment process too for students and recent graduates.

This means that the government, wider technology industry and universities need to work together to tackle the digital divide once and for all, ensuring that potential recruits have access to the tools which are now driving recruitment.

Indeed, our research revealed that 22% of students don’t have the technology required to access careers services since they moved online.

One key step to improving equality of access, therefore, is to make sure offerings are mobile-optimised at a minimum (mobile device penetration is at 98% among the 16-24 age group) and to add support for mobile-based third-party platforms.

Our mission at Handshake is to stem the tide of this ‘netpotism’, and ensure quality of access for all. The Handshake community already includes 17 million students and young alumni at over 1,000 universities, connecting up-and-coming talent with more than 500,000 employers.

Handshake is democratising opportunity and ensuring students have the support they need to kick-off a meaningful career regardless of where they study, what they choose as a major, and who they know.

We understand that a diverse and inclusive workforce is one that ultimately thrives, and limiting the recruitment pool isn’t just unfair – it’s bad for business and economic growth too.

Read the Netpotism Research Paper at

This is an excerpt from the ISE Complete Guide to Student Recruitment and Development

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