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Industry Insights from Lehigh’s Director of Employer Relations

Meet Cheryl McCue, the most recent addition to the team in the Center for Career and Professional Development. She shares her insights on her new career path with Lehigh and the job outlook for Summer 2020.

Tell us about your professional background and your current role.

I began my career in K-12 education, having worked first as an elementary teacher and then principal before moving into roles that included Middle School Assistant Principal and Principal, Director of Student Services & Evaluation, Director of Elementary Education, and more recently as a Director of Human Resources where I oversaw and supported the hiring and staffing needs in a school district before coming to Lehigh as the Director of Employer Engagement.

In my current role, I work with the team in the Center for Career and Professional Development to build and strengthen partnerships with employers in order to create opportunities for our students to network and learn about industries and companies on their journeys to identifying a career path. Also in the Career Center are the supports provided to students for career education and reporting of services to campus and community partners through our assessment and outcomes work.

Could you share what you are seeing regarding hiring right now?

While some industries like hospitality and entertainment as well as restaurants and retail sales have been significantly impacted by COVID-19, there are a number of industries still hiring and in need of recent graduates and talented individuals. Healthcare and pharmaceutical industries are hiring. Social media venues, Cybersecurity and digital services seem to be hiring. In the accounting, banking and finance fields, many employers are hiring and continuing to honor their commitments to student interns and permanent job offers for our Lehigh students. Several of Lehigh’s

employer partners have been shortening summer internships and/or delaying start dates for internships and permanent jobs while also pivoting to remote work in many cases as they protect the health and welfare of their employees.

As a help to anyone seeking employment right now, The is an excellent resource as a publication that posts and regularly updates the list of employers currently hiring. In addition to the listing, a profile of each company and a description of the available jobs are shared. As of May 15th, 94 companies were listed for job seekers. Of additional support are the resources shared through our Career Center blog and newsletters as well as postings in Handshake.

What are some of the top skills that employers are looking for?

Communication and the ability to articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively has always been important, but even more so now in the remote environments in which employees are working. Recent graduates as new employees will need to be prepared to navigate all modes of communication, especially considering digital literacy and the Zoom world in which we are now living. They need to be able to demonstrate how they think critically and problem solve through teamwork and collaboration. They should be able to display leadership and professionalism in working with others and being able to respond to the needs of the job, department, or company.

Overall, I think employers look for employees with great personalities who have strength of character and a solid work ethic to do what it takes to get the job done. Critically important and in direct response to what employers have had to do during COVID-19, they want to see adaptability, flexibility, agility in their new hires. They’ll want to know what recent graduates have done during the last few months to grow and adapt to the situation and their learning. Resiliency comes to mind in this area and having graduates be able to show or share their ability to pivot to varying responsibilities and to be able to use their knowledge and skill sets in whatever way the job requires. I believe demonstrating a sense of well-roundedness and transferability of skills is going to be significant for graduates in today’s job market as companies are reacting and responding to the effects/impact of COVID-19 on their business and in some cases, reimagining themselves.

How does an individual's digital footprint play into the recruitment process?

I think an individual’s digital footprint says a lot about the personal’s a form of marketing yourself and how you represent yourself. It’s kind of like the story you tell about yourself before you have the chance to say a word in the interview. Students need to be sure to be professional and make sure the story they tell through their words and pictures on social media is the story they want employers to hear. In today’s technology driven world, everything and anything we do as people is only a Google search away. It’s important to think about the best avenues to use in creating your digital footprint.

What is the value in attending employer events that are posted in Handshake?

There is great value in attending employer events, whether posted on Handshake or LinkedIn, as it speaks to your personality as a go-getter, a self-starter, someone who takes the initiative. It’s all about Career Management, which is another skill by the way. It begins with familiarizing yourself with all that you can about employers, their industry, and the needs within that industry. Attending events foster activities in networking and provide opportunities to have conversations with employers. They allow students to learn how to identify and articulate their skills, strengths, knowledge, and experiences that are relevant to the industry, company, or position desired as well as students’ short-term and long-term career goals. Employer events can share insight into specific companies and cultures and allow students to make new contacts for their job searches.

I would also recommend students use the Career Center resources as early as possible in their time at Lehigh. The career coaches and directors assist students with learning how to shape their experiences and tell their story as the candidate who should be hired. Students can get assistance with the development of cover letters, the resume build, tips and strategies for interviewing and career expos and navigating those events in a virtual space. In addition to Handshake, the Hire Lehigh blog, Hire Lehigh instagram and Hire Lehigh LinkedIn page are great resources as well. Interviewing with Big Interview the video series can help students through the recruitment process and once they get the positions, there are videos aimed at helping students be their best selves as they make a place for themselves within the culture and climate of the organization. As students, it’s important to know yourself, your talents and skill sets, and work on getting the experiences that will help you showcase them when telling your story.

For more Industry Insights visit the Hire Lehigh Youtube page, including the full webinar with Cheryl: Industry Insights: Hiring Trends & Tips for Students.

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