Job Search Q+A

There are many answers to your questions on these webpages but if you think discussing your particular circumstances in person might help please contact a career advisor.

My job search is stuck what should I do?

Job Seeking Questions To Ask Yourself: Am I using many different tools such as Handshake, Indeed, LinkedIn, and other job search tools?

Are you trying other key words and or looking at other job titles?  Sometimes a job title just doesn’t seem as if it would have anything to do with what the job description really is? Try Indeed Trends. Select key words that match your skills then scroll to below the graphs to find positions that include those key words in the job descriptions. 

Which job boards have you looked at recently? Are you in contact with other classmates?  Try asking them what they are using.   Try reaching out to alumni from your undergrad school. You can also find them on LinkedIn if you don’t know their emails. Many of them may have jobs and some might know of an open position or know someone who knows of an open position?

Are you considering only one geographic area? You may want to broaden your geographic search area.  Are you able to move to other parts of the US?

What other things do you like to do? Are you interested in watching movies or football or soccer or books or other? Sometimes looking at the industry where you have other passions to seek positions with employers in that industry. For example if you like baseball or football have you tried looking at MLB or NBA job boards for professional administrative or corporate positions?   If you like Disney World you may check their website or if you like books check Barnes and Noble corporate for positions that use your skillset.  Sometimes if you check specific employers you find jobs that are not listed on the major places that people look.

Should I apply for jobs in the fall semester even though I am not graduating until May?

Yes. On-campus recruiting is active in the fall and many of the companies participating realize they will need to wait until May for you to graduate. When seeking positions outside of Handshake there is usually not a deadline posted. You may need to apply for a position when you see it posted as it may not still be open when you are ready for it. The recruitment process usually takes several weeks to a few months sometimes so applying for online positions as early as several months before graduation is appropriate.

How do I apply for jobs in the fall semester when I haven’t even started my program yet and I have just arrived at Cornell needing to learn everything about my career search development since I did not need to look for work as an undergrad?

Begin as early as you can. Several weeks before coming to Cornell begin to look at these webpages and start to learn everything you can while updating your resume, building web profiles, and searching for jobs.  Take workshops and attend events. Check out the timeline and use it as a guide.  Searching for jobs will give you an idea of what employers in your area of interest are looking for both technically and in terms of soft skills or transferrable skills.  Make sure you have updated your resume with courses you will be taking and list the education you are currently taking with expected date of graduation.  For some, it takes quite a bit of time to research jobs and update their resume accordingly.  Plan to devote some time each week to searching for work and developing your career searching finesse.

Everyone else in the program is going into “Finance” and I don’t think I want to do this and my skills are not in finance. What should I do?

First, realize that although it may seem as if everyone is going into “Finance” this isn’t true. Look at the Post Graduate Surveys to see where students in your Master program have taken positions. They have consistently been in a broad variety of categories and industries year over year.  You do not have to feel pressured to go into a program that everyone else is going into. Look at the jobs available that you are interested in doing and check to see that you have the skills.

Although I am completing a Master degree this year, I am worried I will not be able to get a job in my field because I don’t have previous experience or background in the field. My undergrad is in Chemistry; Economics; Psychology; Physics; or _____ (fill in the blank with whichever major you held). What should I do?

Everyone comes from a different background and has unique strengths. Your unique strengths will be valuable to your future employer.  Check out the job description and see how your strengths align with the position. Look at the transferrable skills the employer is looking for and see how your strengths align with these.  Many employers are looking to hire a diverse workforce and do not usually want everyone from the same background or from the same undergrad or university to work for them or there would be less innovation.

I understand that the Master Degree Program I am in is one year long but if I extend an extra semester so that I can do an Internship will this get me a better job?

My first inclination is to say No, it will not guarantee you a better job or any job.  It will however, provide you opportunities to network which may or may not open doors at that company. It may provide you with additional skills but it also may not. It will depend on if the company and what they have you doing as in intern as well as if they have an opening when you finish the internship. It will also depend on whether that company is willing to hire you and may also depend on if they are willing to wait for you to finish your additional semester. It also depends on what that company’s philosophy is regarding the use of interns.  As a Master level student, the internship may or may not give you additional skills toward your future position depending on the type of internship you get and what you are tasked with when you are there. 

Intern Tips: There are two types of intern positions you might see… one is a summer intern where the company usually requires you to be continuing  your education. There are some summer internships where the employer requires a student to be pursuing a Master’s degree and if you are graduating in May then you would not be pursuing any longer. There are others however who so not have this stipulation. This will limit your options a bit.

Another type of Intern position might be where a company hires you on full time and calls the probationary period an internship. Know what you are applying for. 

Remember that some companies including those you might see in handshake, are looking for undergrads. Others are not.  It is worth it however, especially if it is your dream company, to question the one that is seeking undergrads if they might consider a master student.  Sometimes when questioning the company about their internships and whether they might consider a recent master grad(networking) they might tell you they have a regular position they haven’t posted yet, they might say they are thinking about creating a position, they may know of someone who is about to leave or get promoted…  I have heard of a few people who have found out about positions in this way. So the short version of this paragraph is it doesn’t hurt to ask. May open up some options for either internship or regular work.

To consider the advantages or disadvantages consider if there are any areas you feel a bit weak in or less confident with or need additional skills in.  If so, make sure the internship you are looking at includes learning or doing these skills. An internship may assist a person to network a bit more which never hurts but the company may or may not have an opening at the end of the internship.  There is no guarantee of continuation but if it is an internship where you will gain specific skills it might be worth it. Many employers realize you will need some training. Very few employers have hired people that have all of the skills they will need.  Have you been finding many opportunities to apply for full time positions? If you are lacking the confidence to apply for full time positions and think an internships might be a good first start you may want to apply for some of the full time positions and see if you are selected for interviews as it may surprise you that you have more skills than you realize.

You may come across an internship that is just perfect for you and you decide to go for it and this will be fine but it is not usually a good reason to extend just because you think it might help you to get a better job.  Year over year, the employment rate for the program is greater than 80% including those who need H1B sponsorship.

Will there be positions open in January/May/ When I Am Ready to Apply?

Sometimes companies don’t know their exact future hiring needs but here is some general advice.

It is a good idea to check the job boards of companies you are interested in every so often between now and then to see if something interests you that is posted now. If so, apply for it unless directed otherwise by the company after applying.  You never know how long the positions are going to be posted or when they are going to be filled.  Positions outside of Handshake usually do not have their deadlines written on the job description. They are usually posted for a finite time according to company policies.  Apply now, especially if it is your dream job because the interview process may extend for a time which may get you close enough where the company might be willing to wait for you to graduate.  Whether you are planning to graduate in January or May I would begin applying now if you see something you are interested in.  Sometimes we never know when the company’s business cycle will dictate new openings.  Some companies have specific hiring cycles and others do not. Sometimes it is necessary to apply during the job fair if you want to get into their student hiring season.  Sometimes people at the company get promoted, sometimes people leave for whatever reason and a position will come open.

Different departments and different hiring managers sometimes do things differently from other ones within the same company.   For example I spoke with a hiring manager from Google who was hiring for the data science team. He has a very specific method for hiring people to his department and wants a specific resume style. He hires according to the business needs of his department which may be different than business needs of rest of Google. 

Bottom line is… whenever you get a few moments check out your bookmarked favorite job boards at websites and apply. 

How do I Know If I Am Qualified?

When we see a job description that says 3-5 years of experience needed our brains will often pass over the job as we instantly think, “ I don’t have that much experience” but if you meet the qualifications in the rest of the job description and if it is not specific in the types of experience that is needed then apply and let the employer screen you out rather than allowing your brain to screen you out before you even start.  For example, if the job description states 5-7 years of experience in a specific field or industry doing specific tasks with increasing experience with x,y,z software or techniques and you have not had that then perhaps you are not qualified. But if you have had several experiences, projects and the job description says 3-5 years and you meet most of the other qualifications in the job description then you may want to apply.

Why? Because sometimes job descriptions are not clear as to what qualifies as experience. It could be your education counts for the experience. Some employers equate a bachelor degree to allow for up to 4 years of experience. It is often not clear when an employer will substitute education for experience.  Some alumni recently mentioned they have not ever hired anyone in their departments who met all of the qualifications.

Regeneron has a great philosophy about when to apply to a position. They say to apply if your skills rate as 3’s, 4’s, or 5’s where the numbers mean this:

Read about it, have seen it done

Completed a couple times with supervision

Completed consistently with supervision

Completed consistently without supervision

Taught others

Should I use a Passive Resume Database so I don’t have to actively look for work or because I don't have time to look for work?

Passive Resume Databases are often used where you might upload your resume and companies will be able to look for resumes where they have open positions. Sometimes these are useful but only if your resume reflects what you are looking to do and only if the company choses to search for candidates in this manner. 

There are certain filters in this type of database that a resume may need to pass in order to be noticed.  There are some people who may try to tell you they will critique or revise your resume in order to pass this filter.  Be wary of paying for services such as this as they may not be as useful as they seem.