Engaging students through mobile: practical steps to boosting careers engagement

November 15, 2021

The world is mobile and Gen-Z are using their phones to network, collaborate, socialise and study. They now expect content to be available on (and optimised for) a mobile device, and for the user experience to be intuitive and rich.

For universities and employers wanting to engage with students, boost employability and shore up career opportunities, mobile is undoubtedly the place to be. In fact, engaging on mobile devices is an important tool in the quest to boost social mobility and level the playing field for students from all walks of life. While we know that many students still don’t have access to laptops and desktops at home, the mobile phone is nearly ubiquitous.

But how do you get the most from mobile platforms? During an informative webinar today, Charles Hardy, Handshake’s Head of University Partnerships teamed up with the University of Liverpool to provide their recommendations and tips on how to best engage students via a mobile.

From the University of Liverpool, Jason Steers, Communications and Engagement Project Officer, was joined by Lottie Gillman, Careers Coach, and Maram Yehiah, Digital Coach, both digital ambassadors for the university, and current students.

The group walked attendees through three core steps for success: 

Give students access to tools. The University of Liverpool team told attendees that top of mind is the idea that the world of work is continually changing, and that students need to get to grips with the tech of the future in order to be a success in the workplace. 

To meet this need, the University embraces digital tools to help students learn the skills they’ll need for employment – as well as coaching students to engage with virtual interviews, AI and augmented reality, and harness social platforms to collaborate with the industry where they want to work.

Create a rich experience. Student expectations are sky high, says the University of LIverpool. And today, they expect just as good an experience on their mobile devices as on laptops or desktops. It’s crucial to create an intuitive and pleasing experience with accessibility at its heart. 

To ensure adoption, mobile solutions need to be smart, responsive and simple – without needing to download multiple apps or go through lengthy sign up processes.

Engage proactively and grab attention. Although the popular consensus is that Gen-Z is glued to their devices, it’s not enough to just ‘be on the platform’. Push notifications, reminders and nudges are important, together with tools like QR codes for more information, to keep students engaged

The group went on to talk about the potential of the Handshake platform, which the university has been using in its Careers Studio since 2020. The group has been particularly impressed by the ability to tailor the platform specifically to students’ needs and ambitions using Handshake’s targeted emails tool, together with the push notifications that allow Careers Services to grab students’ attention wherever they are. 

Simply, Handshake allows students to act when inspiration strikes – it’s fast, responsive and allows students to do things like sign up for careers fairs, or apply for a job, quickly and wherever they are. Indeed, the participants cited one student quote which summed this up:

"Since I started using the Handshake app, I never had to look back. I got two research internships through Handshake, and I couldn’t be happier for the opportunities. I continue to use it as I can filter for jobs that actually will help me moving towards my career goals. You never know what opportunities are out there until you start exploring!”

Wrapping up the session, Charles provided concise tips on reaching and supporting students through controlled messaging and alerts alongside robust and compelling calls to action. The content itself must, of course, be engaging in its tone and language too – as well as its delivery method. He reminded universities to ensure students are comfortable with the information they’re sharing and are aware of the privacy settings available within the Handshake app.

Charles reminded attendees that success can be had when universities involve their students in defining the content, language and tone of outreach - just as Liverpool does - to help make sure it resonates with audiences. Education is crucial too - said Charles - reminding universities that it’s critical to develop digital skills within Careers teams - and that working closely with Marcomms team who are already using these tools for student recruitment can help too.

Want to find out more? Visit https://joinhandshake.co.uk/universities/overview or get in touch.

To watch the full recording, click here