The ECS mission is to provide students and employers with guidance and opportunities to connect while empowering students to attain lifelong career management and employment goals. This includes continuously updating opportunities and working directly with engineering employers around the country. This page was created to provide advice and resources to address the current COVID-19 crisis. In your virtual job search, your ability to be flexible, tech-savvy, and resourceful will be more important than ever. Also, please note the Resources on the right hand side of this page for specific job search links and tools that can help you during this time.
The Virtual Job Search
What does a virtual job search consist of? The following is a sampling of what you can expect:
- A virtual interview process: A virtual interview can come in the form of phone interviews or video interviews (via Skype or Zoom for example). You also may find that you have multiple interviews since the in-person piece is missing. While a virtual interview may not feel the same, be assured that your chances are the same as they would be face-to-face. Abide by standard interview best practices, which includes things like maintaining professionalism, dressing up, knowing the STAR format for behavioral interviews, asking questions that show you are interested in the company/opportunity, and sending a prompt thank you afterwards.
Some key differences will be needing to test technology in advance, ensuring your background is professional (if it's a video interview), and letting your family/roommates know that you need quiet for the duration. Remember to ask about next steps as employers may have different hiring processes/procedures that are different than pre-COVID times. This video provides a deeper dive on virtual interviewing as does this recent ECS Job Blog.
- An emphasis on key traits: You might find employers are more keyed in on qualities like adaptability, communication, and collaboration.
- With many companies switching to remote work, being adaptable is imperative as you may need to adjust to a new work space, a modified schedule, different technology, and more. If your future job has you working on-site, it's likely your company has had to pivot and make adjustments to allow for additional health and safety practices. In uncertain times, your ability to adapt will be important to emphasize.
- Along the same lines, communication practices are different when working remotely. Instead of stepping into your co-worker's office for a chat, you could be jumping onto a web conference, instant messaging, or communicating in a group chat via tools like Microsoft Teams. Having timely, clear communication ensures that work continues to be done efficiently regardless of location. In the interview, give examples of how you've communicated effectively remotely; for instance, highlight success with a capstone project this past semester where all of your communication with the company sponsor and your teammates was via Zoom.
- Lastly, digital collaboration is also important to point out to a potential employer. If you've worked on team projects, consider sharing your web-based portfolio or the website that your group used to display the finished result. Show you're committed to being a team player by inquiring about the company's culture and collaboration tools that you may be using on the job.
- A process that's not as straightforward as you might like: For many employers, the recruitment cycle is a well-oiled machine, with a calender of events and deadlines that are mapped out months in advance. Just like you've had to adapt in your courses, recruiters are having to rethink their hiring practices and plans. So bring your patience to the process because there will be bumps in the road. Be prepared to adjust expectations and realize timelines may shift. As with most things, communication is key, and asking questions to gain clarity is perfectly fine!
One unfortunate reality of the coronavirus is the negative economic impact. Many companies have had to scale back on their hiring plans. Others are freezing all hiring. Even worse, some are rescinding job offers and internships. If you've had the experience of having an employer rescind your internship, co-op, or full-time job, please reach out to ECS. We are here to support you during this time.
What can students who don’t have a job in hand do? Consider the following:
- Stay in touch with the company who rescinded your offer. It's almost certain that the company who made you the internship or full-time offer did not want to withdraw it. As frustrated as you might be, now is not the time to burn bridges. Stay connected on LinkedIn. Email periodically to check-in and update them on what you've been doing. Aim to keep relationships positive, so that you are the first person HR thinks of when they start moving forward again with hiring.
- Use your career center. From job postings updated daily in Handshake, to expert advice from ECS Career Advisors, to carefully curated resources and job search guides, your career center's #1 goal is to put you on the path to success. Plus it's virtual, free, and open 5 days a week, so what do you have to lose?
- Network, network, network! Reach out to your friends, family members, neighbors, professors, previous work colleagues, and former bosses. Let them know you are looking for a job and provide them with an up-to-date resume. Use LinkedIn to build relationships with Ohio State engineering alum so that you can learn more about opportunities and how they were successful in times of adversity. Lean more about online networking here and virtual career fairs/events here.
- Widen your scope. While you previously may have known exactly what you wanted to do, it may be the time to broaden your horizons. While it's optimal to have a job in the function or discipline you have targeted, you may need to let go of the idea of the "ideal" job for practicality purposes. Consider industries that continue to hire amidst the pandemic even if you had previously never considered targeting them before. This video features the top 10 industries hiring during COVID-19.
- Consider alternative experiences. ECS recently surveyed employers to learn more about what they would like to see from students who were unable to secure employment due to the pandemic. Responses included things like developing technical skills and certifications, volunteering, honing soft skills, taking on a micro-internship or gig work (learn more about those experiences here), and continuing to refine job search skills (like sprucing up your resume, polishing interviewing abilities, updating your LinkedIn, practicing interview conferencing, etc.).
Want more information on how to handle a job rescind? This video has you covered.
In times of social distancing, chances are if you are working, you are doing so remotely. So how do you stay productive and set yourself up for success in this new framework? Here are some strategies to help:
- Stick to a schedule. Create a daily work routine which includes activities like waking up at roughly the same time everyday, getting dressed, maintaining clearly defined working hours, taking a lunch hour, and incorporating other small breaks.
- Set up a dedicated office space. It's important to set yourself up in a space where you can focus. Find a place you feel comfortable and do what you can to reduce distractions.
- Make sure you have the right equipment. You may not have the workspace setup you're used to, but do your best to obtain the tools you need to do the job. This might include things like high speed internet, a wi-fi extender, a scanner, a printer, and a webcam to start. If you don't have the necessary equipment, ask your employer to provide what you need.
- Maintain healthy physical and mental habits. Stay hydrated, take a walk on your breaks, get up to stretch, reach for healthy snacks/meals, move your work outside on a nice day, practice self-care. Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Remote work has unique challenges. Things will go wrong, so learn from your mistakes, and celebrate the victories.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate! Working from home might seem like a solo experience, but that's typically not the case. Be available via email, phone, text, or instant message. Set up Skype or Zoom conferences to have face time with your supervisor and colleagues. Set up methods for communication and collaboration that works for your team while you work remotely. When in doubt, over-communicate until told otherwise.
Your remote work plan is likely to change as you go. This is a new situation for everyone, so make adjustments as you determine what works for you and what doesn't. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the same people you would usually turn to for help at the office. Supplemental resources may help as you navigate your new situation. For tips on success during your virtual internship, watch this. For additional information about working remotely, learn more here.