Job-hunting tips for CMU grads

COVID-19 crisis makes flexibility and preparation more important than ever

Job searches for graduating students naturally bring challenges and stress. A worldwide pandemic pushes them into uncharted waters.

Mug-HarwoodEngineering senior Jacob Harwood from Gaylord, Michigan, graduating in May, noticed that once the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 started to rise in March, there was a drop-off in the number of responding potential employers, and the promised call-backs “after the situation dies down” never occurred as the cases mounted.

Fortunately, Amptech Inc., a manufacturer in Manistee, Michigan, that he had interviewed with earlier continued the interviewing process, albeit with some modifications: The planned meeting and tour of the company was canceled, and his final interview was held via Zoom.

The good news is that he got the job.

Now he is searching online for a place to live and sharing with his fellow graduates some advice about job searching amid the pandemic:

  • Persevere. There are a still plenty of jobs out there.
  • Make good use of job-hunting tools such as and LinkedIn.
  • Reach out to your network of CMU faculty, alumni, friends and family for contacts, advice and support.

And use the resources available at CMU’s Career Development Center, which offers these tips:

  1. Be flexible: Your major does not define you. Be open to opportunities that require transferable “soft skills,” such as organization, com
  2. Research companies and industries: Be intentional with researching your companies of interest. Dive into company websites and social media. The more information you can gather, the more successful you will be in demonstrating how you fit.
  3. Network — and make it personal: Use networking social media platforms such as LinkedIn to build your connections. Use the CMU alumni search tool to find those in your field and in areas where you want to work. Introduce yourself, ask questions, and even request a brief virtual trial interview.
  4. Tailor your résumé and cover letter: In a competitive market, it is crucial to tailor your experiences to fit an employer’s needs. Sell yourself as a perfect fit for each specific job. Review the job posting and apply relevant keywords to your résumé and cover letter. Be sure to include clearly identified requirements, skills and qualities you possess.
  5. Practice, practice, practice: Now more than ever, employers are holding virtual interviews. Prepare just as you would for an in-person interview, but also create an appropriate space with adequate lighting and no distractions. Install interviewing platform software well before your interview and check audio and video connections. The Career Development Center provides one-on-one mock interviewing services to students and alumni.
  6. Draft a plan, and lean on resources: Draft a search plan, stay organized, be patient, remain resilient, and lean on campus resources. The career center conducts virtual one-on-one appointments for career-related topics including mock interviewing, career coaching, and help with résumés and cover letters.
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