Successfully search for a job, even now

Published: May 01, 2020

Longtime career adviser says a lot can be accomplished, with good preparation

Queensborough Community College’s Director of Career Services gets straight to the point: job-seeking students and graduates who make the best of this bad situation will have the greatest advantage with employers this summer and autumn.

“You can, and have to, take action. Get creative, maintain or increase your education, be strategic and be prepared to go where you are needed,” states Constance Peluso, squeezing in lunch while working from home and taking phone calls and holding video consultations with Queensborough students.

The College’s Office of Career Services ‒ which has scheduled a mini virtual job fair for students on Tuesday May 12th at 2pm (email mweisel@qcc.cuny.edu to reserve your spot) ‒ has advised as many as 75 students per week, virtually, since the campus shut in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s natural that some students feel daunted in this climate, but the good news in all of this is that recruiters are still recruiting, jobs are still out there. Everyone, however, needs to think laterally and open themselves to change,” Peluso says.

With more than 30 years of experience as an educator, counselor and career specialist, Peluso says the worst mistake anyone can make right now is to allow the situation to overwhelm them.

“Show your future employer how much drive you have by increasing your knowledge and experience now,” she directs students.

If students are unable to secure a position, Peluso urges them to deepen or broaden their skills by volunteering, taking another course ‒ Queensborough’s summer sessions, for example, start on May 26th and offer more than 100 courses  ‒  or by accessing additional specialist training.

Paid and unpaid internships, on-the-job work experience related to your career interests or current field of study, are also great avenues to full-time employment, says Peluso.

“About 750 Queensborough students do internships through cooperative education courses each year. We inform students, faculty and staff about internship opportunities, and prepare students to apply. It’s competitive but we help students plan, obtain and complete internships.”

While the rules of job hunting and recruitment engagement have changed over the last two months ‒ think more video interviews and screenings (more than 40% of employers surveyed in April by National Association of Colleges and Employers [NACE] say they will increase their recruiting via virtual media) ‒ the core elements of job preparation and searching are the same, according to Peluso. 

“Identify your core skills. Investigate the industries and companies you are pursuing. Perfect your resume and customize it for every application.”

Networking, Peluso stresses, is still the best way to get a job. So work the phones and reach out to people you know already and others you want to know. So-called downtime at home, also, provides a good opportunity now for you to document all of your education, highlight relevant experience and to clean-up your e-footprint.

“Learn how to establish a profile on Linked-In, go back through your social media sites and postings and look critically at your virtual presentation. Employers routinely look at your online profile,” Peluso advises.

In late March, The New York Times described COVID-19 as “the job-eating virus” for the class of 2020. The next 12 to 18 months will be uncertain in terms of the job market. With countless interviews postponed and summer placements cut short or canceled across America, only 60% of recruiters plan to maintain their 2020 recruiting levels going into 2021, according to the latest April NACE survey.

That points to a smaller job market as the economy starts opening up again, and Peluso warns competition will be intense. Graduate applicants may need to set aside what they want to do and respond instead directly to what businesses need.

“Employers want to see that candidates go beyond their formal schooling and learn on their own. Take advantage of any credible, free training you can get. You want to show your agility. That will increase your odds of making something good out of all of this.”

Above all, the Director encourages students to consult a knowledgeable career adviser at Queensborough, to stay motivated and to think positively.

“Attitude, absolutely, has a lot to do with success, even in this climate. Optimism and motivation will yield results.”

Queensborough Community College’s Director of Career Services Connie Peluso shares her top advice:

  • Stay safe; keep physically and emotionally healthy.
  • Focus on your studies. Get tutoring at Queensborough. Turn a B into an A; your GPA matters.
  • Commit to learning something new. Enroll in a summer course. Register for fall classes.
  • Consult with a Queensborough Career Adviser develop a great resume and make a career plan that works for you
  • Don’t waste your time. Focus on improving competencies employers seek.
  • Learn how to speak about your skills and accomplishments, and practice.
  • Get comfortable with virtual interviewing and networking. Your presentation may be even more important on camera than in person.
  • Be purposeful, persistent and positive.
  • Stay motivated, and ready. When the economy comes back, you’ll want to be in top form for good jobs.

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Contact:  Michael Donahue or Alice Doyle

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