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The Playbook for Job Search During a Pandemic

By: Cagla Celik, MBA, MA, NCC || Career Development Specialist


The 7-letter term that captured all our daily lives, leading to a worldwide panic and a downturn in economy. Only a few weeks ago, we were normal citizens who dreamed about spring break plans, got caught in the daily grind of work routine, fantasized about graduation and getting that dream job, but today’s world and employment trends are different. The rules of the game have completely changed and there is no playbook. So, if you are nervous about the future and have a difficult time adjusting to the abrupt changes around us, you are not alone! We are all going through this unprecedented crisis, and we are all in this together!


While it is true that most companies are evaluating their hiring plans, recruitment hasn’t come to a complete halt: The search is still on! A recent survey by NACE shows that over 60 percent of companies indicated they are not revoking offers to full-time recruits and interns, and that they are planning to recruit at the same level for the class of 2020. The majority of college seniors are still hunting for a full-time job, and so should you! 

There is no doubt it will be more challenging to get jobs now, but you can’t afford to waste time. To get started you need to be proactive and engage with employers through virtual events; seek professional career advice from our team at Career Services Center; apply to as many active opportunities as possible; and be prepared to ace virtual interviews. More importantly – BE FLEXIBLE!

You may have long fantasized about getting that dream job in a specific industry, after years of relentless academic preparation. I understand that the current state of the job market and position availability is not what you have dreamed of. So, should you just wait until the market gets better and more appropriate jobs in your field become available? NO! It is important to start building experiences, even when the jobs are not what you have originally had in mind. During an economic crisis, most human resource professionals understand that you have bills to pay and don’t mind if you have had a job not directly related to your field. Most may even appreciate the flexibility and proactive approach to building your resume.


The coronavirus pandemic is affecting all employment trends, bringing additional challenges to secure jobs. But, I have good news for you: not all is lost. Some companies are still hiring, certain industries are booming, perhaps more than ever, while others are taking a hit. Hospitality, restaurant, food and beverage, and arts and entertainment industries are among the most negatively affected. On the other hand, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, healthcare, and non-profit sectors remain relatively steady in comparison. The top roles being advertised through Handshake since the beginning of March are:

  • Software Developers and Engineers
  • Business Analysts and Management Consultants
  • Accountants
  • Data Analysts
  • Customer Service Representatives
    (Source: Handshake)

Here are some industries/job functions that are worth including in your job search: Information Technology, Government, Law Enforcement, Education, Sales, Digital Marketing, Supply Chain and Logistics, Project Management, Grocery Stores, Food Delivery, and Customer Support (especially for teleworking services).


Welcome to the new age. Companies are turning to virtual interview platforms more than ever. What you need know: Getting a job is a numbers game. On average, corporations receive 250 applications per job posting, and bring in (or they used to) approximately four candidates for interviews. With the COVID-19 changes, the job market will be even more competitive, so you need to apply to as many job postings as possible. Below are some good resources that will help you identify positions actively hiring:

  1. USE LINKEDIN. Seriously, use it! LinkedIn has the most up-to-date information about current openings. Go to the “Jobs” function and select "remote" for location. They currently have 55,000+ remote positions, most of which were updated recently. 
  2. USE HASHTAGS. You will likely have great success if you use #hiringnow on LinkedIn. Many recruiters, working from home, are trying to reach out to as many qualified candidates as possible by using this hashtag. This can be a great opportunity not only to apply for a remote position, but also to increase your chances for an interview by effectively networking with the recruiter. Other hashtags to consider: #workfromhome #remotework
  3. CANDOR.CO. This website gives you live updates for tons of companies and their hiring process with tags, such as "hiring," "hiring freeze," "offers rescinded," and "layoffs." You can use it to identify companies that are actively recruiting. 
  4. ISMYINTERNSHIPCANCELLED.COM. Candid and straight to the point… You will find direct answers with "yes," "nope," "freeze," or "remote."
  5. MUSE.COM. Has a running list of 56 companies that are actively hiring. They are updating the list as we go. 
  6. JOBSCAN.CO. Similarly, this website has a list of companies that ramped up hiring because of increased demand on their industry.


During “virtual” appointments over the past few weeks, several students have asked me about graduate school as a backup, in case they could not find jobs. It may be a viable alternative if:

  1. You had considered further education before the pandemic, because of high demand for graduate education in your field of study or its significant contribution to your career plan.
  2. You had considered attending graduate school at some point in the future, after gaining meaningful, real-life experience in the industry for a few years.

However, if you have never considered graduate school before, either because you have had an academic burnout or your chosen profession only requires bachelor level education, then you may need to take a step back and analyze your situation. Will it be worth investing significant time, energy, and money if it doesn’t give you a significant advantage? Have you investigated other options, such as part-time jobs or internships? Most of you may not have answers to these questions and that is okay. Reach out to Career Services and schedule an appointment to discuss your options!  

For those who still deem graduate school as a good alternative, there are still a few considerations due to coronavirus. Standardized testing for graduate school admissions has been cancelled almost throughout the world, but don’t panic yet! Here is the good news: some tests, such as GRE and GMAT, are in the process of creating a home online testing version. Additionally, many colleges in the U.S. are adjusting their required application materials and deadlines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The best approach to inquire information for graduate school application process is either contacting the graduate admissions office or the program coordinator faculty at the institution. 


Remember, there are people available to help you. Talk to your professors, advisors, mentors… And remember, Career Services is still here to help you remotely. Hang in there and let’s go Mountaineers!