‘Virtual is here to stay:’ Pandemic Ushers in New Job Preparation Methods

Posted on October 12th, 2020 by Matt Bell

When virtual meetings took the world by storm following the outbreak of COVID-19, the Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness at Averett University seized the opportunity to learn how it could better prepare students for job interviews and resume building in a virtual setting.

This semester, career preparation options for Averett students continue to be held virtually.

“Since COVID-19, we really have to train our students to be prepared for this virtual interview environment. Obviously its way different from in-person where you’re going to go in, make eye contact, shake hands and really interact,” said Ryan Taube, CCECC coordinator of career competitiveness.

CCECC Director of Career Competitiveness Angie McAdams said students now have the option to attend virtual career development workshops twice a week, which are also recorded for later viewing.

“We are adjusting our workshops to be held around the noon hour and again in the evening at 8 p.m. This gives students an opportunity to take a break from the day, catch their breath and maybe have a little dinner before jumping back into a virtual setting,” she said.

The first virtual Handshake 101 workshop was offered to students in September. Unlike other career building sites, Handshake is set up exclusively for college students to network and find careers after graduation.

Calling it an adjustment due to the times, Taube said they strive to offer the same quality workshop in a virtual setting as students were able to get in person with a twist – they are also providing information on virtual job interviews.

“We are getting them comfortable in that virtual environment and helping them understand how to conduct themselves during the interview,” Taube said. “There are things they can simply do such as keeping their background clean and still dressing up for the interview. Yes, it is still important to dress up and look professional for virtual interviews. Even where you keep the camera angle is important.”

Asked if virtual interviews are here to stay, McAdams and Taube without hesitation said “yes.”

“This is something we’re expecting to stick around because companies don’t have to pay to put someone up in a hotel or fly them in. Virtual is here to stay,” Taube said.

McAdams added, “These students are going to have a virtual interview at some point in their life. We know that. It’s so much cheaper for these companies and time saving to conduct interviews in this manner.”

Students are also able to get resume critiques as a part of the services offered by McAdams and Taube.

“I see students sell themselves short because they don’t think working at a fast food restaurant looks good,” McAdams said. “But those things matter; they show you have worked in the real world and have experience. It shows you have problem-solving skills, that you are a team player.”

Additional tools provided to students include introducing them to technology with which they may have little to no familiarity.

“I think the most need is getting up-to-speed and comfortable with technology. I know our 22-year-olds think they’re comfortable with technology, but we need to provide them with opportunities to get comfortable with these things. It’s all part of soft-skill development. We need them participating in workshops and mock interviews,” McAdams said.

As the semester nears the halfway mark, McAdams and Taube said December 2020 graduates should have begun job-hunting already, while spring 2021 graduates should begin looking now.

“You might not get a job in the first three months. It may take six months,” Taube said.

The pair will host a virtual career fair on Friday, Oct. 16, with information on Handshake, resume writing and other workshops. McAdams said they are encouraging all students to participate, whether looking for a job currently or not.