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Career Services adapts to job search challenges in a pandemic

Stay at home orders have affected employment on a national scale through mass layoffs, canceled internship programs, increased safety measures and transitions to remote work. As COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, leaves many wondering what comes next, Cleveland State University’s Career Services staff is working to help students and alumni find new opportunities.

While some companies have canceled their internship programs due to COVID-19, others are continuing forward. Federal Reserve Bank, for example is switching their internship to operate remotely, and Overdrive posted more openings, said Assistant Director of Career Services Karen Lieske.

“Employers are still hiring,” Executive Director of Career Services Jessica Colombi said. “That’s exactly why we have Hire A Vike.”

The job board maintained by Career Services for Cleveland State students and alumni is still up and running, with Career Service staff members keeping track of new listings as they come in. There are more than 400 job openings listed in Cleveland alone and more than 150 internships, Lieske said.

As some job opportunities function remotely during the pandemic, Career Services has also put out a new webpage with information and resources for remote work. The new “What I Can Do Right Now (Spring 2020)” webpage provides connections to job boards for in-person and remote work, lists employers who are currently hiring, offers information for learning new skills and provides advice and tools for working remotely.

While searching for remote work, Colombi and Lieske warned that there are more scams out there than ever, including advertisements for work that require fees to apply.

“You should never pay to apply,” Colombi said. “Money should not exchange hands unless it is an official paycheck.”

Colombi advised anyone searching for jobs to check if a company has an address, a professional email account and proper grammar in their listings to verify legitimacy. Career Services is a resource for questions if students are unsure about a potential opportunity, said Lieske.

Students and graduates may not find the exact job they’re hoping for at the moment, but Career Specialist Elaine Suarez urged job applicants to be flexible and keep their options open.

“It’s one of the skills employers look for,” Suarez said.

There are lots of job opportunities, Lieske said. Grocery stores, warehouses and other essential businesses are still hiring.

“Maybe what [students] were hoping for isn’t there, but they can pivot and take a look at what is there,” Lieske said.

The new-found free time that has come with the pandemic also provides an opportunity to grow in how you appear online professionally. Work on creating your digital brand, Suarez suggested. Hire A Vike is a free resource to the Cleveland State community, and LinkedIn can do some of the work for a job search, she said.

“You want to work on both because they’ll both give you access to different networks,” Suarez said.

Career Services is posting more tips and relevant information regularly to their social media pages.

“Right now, it’s probably not about your dream job, although that’s possible, but it might be aligning your skills with what’s available,” Colombi said. “I think that that’s important, the ability to manage ambiguity and the ability to be flexible. These are transferable skills. These are skills employers are looking for, and now is your moment.”