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UM Career Center Offers Advice for Landing a Job During Pandemic

Finding gainful employment following graduation requires preparation, pursuit and perseverance, especially during a pandemic when many job-hunting processes have changed. To assist students in the process, the University of Mississippi Career Center staff are offering suggestions on how to connect with prospective employers.

Toni Avant, director of the UM Career Center. Photo courtesy of Ole Miss PR.

“The Career Center team is here and available to meet with students to help them navigate their way through the job search process,” said Toni Avant, the center’s director. “We are here to help. All they have to do is reach out to schedule an appointment.”

The center is hosting a virtual All Majors Career Expo from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday (Oct. 6). Ole Miss students must register for the event through the Handshake employment platform to access and sign up on participating employers’ schedules.

Students can meet with employers in a 30-minute group information session, or they can opt to sign up for 10-minute, one-on-one sessions during the expo’s afternoon run.

“The expos allow students to explore internship and full-time career opportunities,” Avant said. “We strongly encourage students to research the participating employers beforehand, so that they can prepare a good list of questions to ask during the expo.”

Informational resources on the center’s website suggest how to prepare for virtual interviews, Avant said. She and other staff are available to help students with preparing their employment documents, practicing interviews, introducing them to the Handshake platform and showing them how to access all the resources available on this system.

“Realistically speaking, I would say that students need to be prepared to expand their search, geographically, and to consider alternate careers, in addition to that one ‘dream job’ they may have desired since entering college,” she said. “I would encourage students to broaden their options and look for ways to get some additional training or certifications to ramp up their credentials, so that they can create greater appeal for potential employers.”

A number of free, short-term training programs are also available online.

“Adding a little something extra to your portfolio of academic and cocurricular experiences can only help in the job search process, especially when it is an employer’s market,” Avant said.

Other suggestions for job-hunters are:

  • Begin your job search early. See if there are opportunities available now. Some employers are hiring graduates to work remotely, while others are hiring new talent to work in traditional workspaces.
  • Research potential organizations before reaching out to them. Keep in mind that some companies may have instituted temporary hiring freezes, so it would be a good idea to begin your job search early, as well as consider multiple organizations. The competition will be greater during this hiring cycle because fewer opportunities are available than before the pandemic.
  • Prepare for virtual interviews just as if you were meeting in person. That includes dressing professionally during a virtual interview.
  • Create a LinkedIn profile. The Career Center has resources available on its website that provide some great tips on how to create a profile on LinkedIn.
  • Prepare resumes and any other employment correspondence necessary to apply for the position of your choice. Students should share their resume and any other information about the positions they plan to apply for with those who agree to serve as references. A minimum of three professional references, which include faculty, current or former employers and campus organization advisers, is recommended.
  • Use the Handshake career management platform to create a profile and to search for full-time employment opportunities. Besides job postings for all academic majors, the platform offers many professional development events that students can sign up for, and which are sponsored by various companies.

For more information, visit https://career.olemiss.edu/.

By Edwin B. Smith

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