For many graduating seniors, it may feel like they are members of the Class of COVID-19 as they prepare to enter one of the most uncertain job markets in recent history.

Though finding a job in today’s market is certainly challenging, there are still plenty of employment options out there. And to help students find those opportunities, the College of Charleston Career Center will hold a virtual Spring 2021 Career Fair and Employer Information Session on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, for CofC students and alumni. The event will be held via the online platform in Handshake! from noon to 4 p.m.

As graduating seniors begin searching for that first job, Jim Allison, the executive director of the College’s Career Center, offers six tips for how students can successfully navigate today’s job market.

1. Be prepared for Zoom interviews

Allison says it is important to treat a Zoom interview the same as a face-to-face interview. He encourages job seekers to practice a virtual mock interview before the real Zoom interview.

“Be prepared and be ready with good questions,” he says. “Exhibit as much energy and enthusiasm as possible and conclude by asking for and securing clear instructions as to next steps or timeline. Always follow up quickly with thank you correspondence.”

The Career Center is available to help if students need to practice a mock interview.

2. Do your homework before the virtual job fair

The key to getting ready for a job fair is to do a lot of research. “Look into all participating companies, their mission and vision statements,” says Allison. “Find the best fit for you and be prepared to speak confidently about yourself.” Also, understand that some companies may not look like the best fit “on paper,” but could be worth a deeper look as you do your research.

3. Yes, you need a résumé

A college résumé bridges the gap between an academic career and a professional career says Allison. Your résumé should not only demonstrate success in the academic world, but also your preparation for the professional one. But don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of current experience to put on your résumé. Allison says the Career Center can work with you and explain ways to write a résumé with your existing credentials, and separately, how to gain new experience moving forward. And remember to use LinkedIN as your online résumé and as an opportunity to network.

4. What about a reference letter?

“It depends,” says Allison. “Some organizations allow for these to be uploaded and they can help. The key is to follow instructions and send the company what you are asked to submit. That will often include a list of your references (former supervisors for example), and that is very important to include.” He says to make sure to alert your references, so they will be prepared if contacted by an employer.

5. Where can I find job openings?

Allison says there are many options to finding job openings, often depending upon a student’s major and years of experience.

“We recommend using Handshake to start, and then networking as much as possible (e-networking in the current environment) to find new openings that fit your background,” he says.

Students should remember that getting an internship often helps in networking, as well as provides hands-on learning of important work and life skills.

And always consider whether you can apply directly to the company or organization and do so if you meet the requirements for the posted position. As for the many online job websites/job boards, Allison says it can be “hit or miss.”

6. Use the Career Center now and later as a job source

COVID-19 has made job searching more challenging, but Allison says there are still good jobs and internships available.

“The Career Center continues to post new internship and job opportunities daily for students using Handshake,” he says. “These positions have been vetted for best fit for our students and recent alumni.”

Allison says on average, the Career Center will post about 25 new jobs and five internships per day with a mix of virtual and in-person positions. He encourages job seekers to use Handshake or contact the Career Center for more information.