Iowa State faculty explain how to job hunt during the pandemic


During this time of COVID-19, job hunting has changed in many different ways. 

Olivia Ruf

The spread of coronavirus has disrupted how college graduates are transitioning into their careers. As individuals and companies adapt to the ever-changing pandemic, so does the job market and hiring process. 

Many entry-level positions are at risk or have already been canceled by employers. A survey conducted by Indeed showed that of over 1,000 students graduating this year, 54 percent said the coronavirus’ impact on the job market has made them feel less confident in finding work after graduation, while 33 percent said they feel unsure that they will find success in the field they are graduating in. 

However, there are some job opportunities in areas that were not frequent before the pandemic began that are becoming more popular now, job opportunities such as contact tracing, Amanda Demaris, an alumni relations specialist with the Iowa State Alumni Association said. 

“The way jobs are impacted really depends on the career field,” Demaris said. “While some industries are moving to layoffs others are continuing to hire.”

Some universities are adapting to the situation and holding virtual career fairs in lieu of their regular in-person career fairs to help adapt to the situation. 

“Companies are coming to hiring events this fall knowing they won’t be hiring the same numbers they have been in the past and some not even hiring at all,” said Michael Gaul, director of Iowa State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Career Services. 

Most hiring processes have gone virtual during the pandemic, with most interviews taking place on popular online video chat applications such as Webex, Zoom, Google Hangouts or Microsoft Teams. Iowa State’s fall career fairs, which typically take place in local Ames venues, took place virtually through CyHire. 

“It’s more important now than ever for students to make sure their resumes and cover letters are effective,” said Kellie Mullaney, assistant director of Iowa State College of Engineering Career Services. “Our office is here to help with that. We recommend that all students seek out career services to get their materials reviewed by professionals.”

Through Career Services, students can talk one on one with experienced counselors and professionals to get help in their career paths. However, this year’s processes are different due to coronavirus. All appointments will be delivered virtually via Webex, Zoom or phone to respect social distancing guidelines. 

Some students and even employers have mentioned they prefer the online format of networking because of its convenience, potentially making it a more permanent experience for college graduates in their job hunting experience, Mullaney said. 

Gaul and Mullaney said there has been a decrease in employers for their departmental career fairs this year compared to recent years. 

Resources such as LinkedIn can be a very useful tool in navigating a potential career path postgraduation for many upcoming graduates, Gaul said. Having a professional online presence can boost chances of recognition and finding job openings.

Mullaney also stressed the importance of networking during this time, whether that be at formal events such as career fairs, mentioning their job search in passing with classmates or with professors.

“You will hear ‘no’ a lot in your job search, but you need to be resilient. Students need to be proactive, not reactive and not wait until the last minute to look for a job,” Gaul said. “At the end of the day, good students are always in high demand.”