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3-Phase Plan for Virtual Job Searching

Finding a job or internship during a pandemic is tough. Whether it’s finding the right position, preparing your materials, or acing a virtual interview, navigating a non-traditional hiring process can feel overwhelming.

Pitt Career Center consultant Emily Bennett says that the most unique challenge about finding a job during this time is becoming comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. “It’s alright to mourn the loss of what you thought your last semester or post-graduation plans would look like, but the sooner you come up with an alternative strategy, the better.” Luckily, the Career Center and Pitt IT have some great resources to help you hit the ground running.

Phase 1: Finding Job Opportunities

Bennett recommends a company-first approach to job searching: find a company you’re interested in, and search their career pages for openings. Then, get in touch to learn more information about current or future openings. Here are some helpful sites when job searching:

  • Pitt Career Center. Schedule a virtual career consultation to develop a tailored plan that meets your goals. Current students can schedule here, and recent graduates can visit here.
  • Handshake. This career services platform has virtual webinars, job fairs, contact info for employers, and job postings from Pitt’s employer and alumni connections.
  • LinkedIn. Get connected with the Pitt alumni network on LinkedIn to help you find Pitt alumni working in the industries and companies you care about.
  • Pitt Commons. Pitt’s mentoring platform helps you get connected with others in the Pitt community who have similar interests and career paths that you aspire to.

Phase 2: Prepping your Applications

Hiring managers want to see an array of materials from you, like your resume, cover letter, and online portfolio. Here are some Pitt IT services to simplify the process of assembling your application materials.

  • Generate an online portfolio with Sway. Create multimedia cards, choosing from various templates and styles, to make a unique Sway portfolio. There are tons of free images, videos, and audio files to spruce up your presentation. Sway hosts your presentation online, so sharing is easy—just share the link or add it to your resume or cover letter.
  • Create a personal website. To showcase information about you, make a personal website. Program it in HTML or use a web building app to create a site that shows who you are, and then publish it through Pitt’s network file system.
  • Use the Pitt IT Virtual Computing Lab. The Virtual Lab allows you to remotely access the programs offered in the Student Computing Labs. Create design, writing, or coding samples for your portfolio, design your resume, and organize your job search
  • Save your files in the cloud. When you tailor your materials for each job, you’ll end up with many cover letter versions and tons of work samples. Saving them all in one place will make it easy to mix-and-match and stay organized. Use the cloud to store your job search files without taking up space on your computer. Current students have free access to OneDrive through Pitt; after graduation, you can secure a personal OneDrive account.

Phase 3: The Interview

Virtual interviews are your chance to let employers put a face to the name and make a great impression. Here are some tips to help you nail your virtual interviews:

  1. Do a mock interview. Through Pitt, you have access to Big Interview. This platform can help you learn and practice answers to general, behavioral, and technical questions. It provides mock interviews, coaching, and advice tailored to your industry and experience level.
  2. Treat it like a normal interview. Just because you’re at home, doesn’t mean you should be less professional or prepared. That means reading up on the company, preparing some questions to ask, making eye contact, practicing good hygiene, and yes—wearing pants.
  3. Be aware of your background. Place your lighting facing you, behind your computer, so you’re clearly visible. Clean your background so there are minimal items in view. Don’t use a virtual background—calling in from outer space makes an odd impression. Tell housemates that you’ll be in an interview, and keep the door and windows closed to avoid interruptions and noise.
  4. Test your audio and video beforehand. Technical difficulties are big time wasters during a limited interview, in addition to being painfully awkward. Do one—or three—test runs to make sure everything runs smoothly. Ask family members to log off Wi-Fi to ensure strong service.
  5. Send a follow up e-mail. After the interview, send a follow-up email thanking them for their time and reaffirming your excitement for the position. While always important, it's even more critical during this time of social distancing, when the hiring process is so impersonal. Every bit of communication and personality counts!

Although this is a challenging time for job-seekers, Pitt IT and the Career Center are here to help. Bennett is hopeful for those graduating: “As someone who graduated two months before the 2008 recession and had her entire plan upended, it forced me to understand that there are factors outside of my control, despite working very hard and having the best intentions.” Bennett used the opportunity to pursue her own side project that eventually grew into a business. “It led to some pretty amazing things that I could never had imagined."

—By Tabitha Barnes, Pitt IT Student Blogger