Cornell University Ergonomics Web

 16 Tips for Finding an Ergonomics Job/internship

  1. Join the professional society - become a member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES)? If not, I suggest that you become a student member ( They run a job opportunities service. Also, jobs are advertised in the monthly bulletin. They published a directory of all members, so you can browse this for your area and contact folks in companies that seem interesting (see below).
  2. Write a resume- put together a resume that says exactly what your skills are, what you've done and what you want to do. Resume help... Employers have been really impressed with a formal education in human factors. Make sure to specify useful skills like stats programs, software knowledge and proficiency, and tools you learned in HF classes. Your experiences with real clients makes the difference. Teamwork is big too. Pass your resume around to professors and other established members of the HFES. Just ask them to give you feedback. That is a great way to get the word out that you are available for employment. It usually takes a few attempts to prepare a resume that works for your potential employers.
  3. Create a personal web site. Everyone at Cornell gets server space on Design the page(s) to present your best side. Post your work and resume, and affiliation with professional societies. Put links to all your on-line class/project work. Remember, employers are busy, only post materials you think they should see (skip the party shots or your road trip to CA). If you don't want to explain it in an interview, don't post it. Now put your web site address on your resume. Employers like having access to it and being able to easily pass the link to colleagues. I have had head hunters call me just because they found my resume on-line while surfing around one day.
  4. Create a project portfolio - put together a portfolio that includes all of the project work that you've been involved in at Cornell. You can show this to prospective employers. It helps you organize your thoughts and show off your experiences. You can also make an electronic version of this and link it to your web site.
  5. Get the word out - Use the Internet as well instead of mailing out your resume. Pointing employers to a web site that is properly done is more impressive. Then hit the phones, with the receiver in one hand and the HFES membership directory in the other! Companies love on-line resumes that link to web sites because they can quickly get to know you and your work. Mail/email your resume to the interesting firms in the area where you would like to work and follow up with phone calls. If companies don't have full-time jobs, they may have paid internships or contract work. You can find a list of contact names for companies by area in the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Membership Directory.
  6. Post frequent updates - When posting to HFES, update you resume frequently. The HFES sent out an email to us job seekers mentioning that some employers skip over resumes that haven't been updated in a few weeks.
  7. Post your resume - use the internet to put your resume on career sites such as ( Note: when giving your resume a title, include those words that describe the work you are looking for (i.e. human factors, usability, design, research, product evaluation, etc.) even sends you an email everyday to let you know how many jobs were posted in the fields you are interested in.
  8. Network by attending professional meetings - attend the annual HFES conference, regional meetings, student chapter meetings etc. They have many sessions headed by leading members dedicated to answering student questions about careers in human factors and they provide great guidance on resume building and networking. The contacts you make at these meetings are priceless. All week long, employers with present job openings, are interviewing at the career center. Just sign up for an interview. Those students that are there at the conference meeting people face to face are in a much better position over someone who just mails in a resume. Get in the game.
  9. Scan job vacancies - look through the job vacancies for a job that you think you'd like. Remember that job adverts are always an ideal wish list, and few people ever fit the complete bill. If you think you can do the job, even if you don't meet all of the requirements. The worst they can say is "No", which has the same consequence as not applying at all. Go for it!
  10. Don't over price yourself - if you really want the job! Let them make you an offer. Employers offer what they can afford. With no experience, fresh out of school, there isn't too much room for negotiation. That comes later in your career, so be patient. Chances are your first job will not be your last!
  11. What's hot today and tomorrow - look at where the demand for jobs is today and try to anticipate what will still be needed in the future. Software jobs are hot now and probably will be for a long time. You should have no trouble turning heads with and education from CU in a software firm. If you know WWW design and evaluation skills, you are in the best position to market yourself.
  12. Timing....don't wait until you need a job to look for one. Make contacts all thru your schooling and by the time you are ready, you will already have a few options to choose from. Decide which firms are your first choice and mail/email/apply to those places all at once. You want to have all of your best choices in front of you at the same time so you don't miss your perfect position because you just agreed to take a job because it came first. If no success, make a list of all of your second choices, etc.
  13. Alumni - Cornell alumni are a great resource. Look through the DEA department alumni list on the Human Ecology college server ( and see who is in the area where you want to work, then contact them for advice.
  14. Colleagues - talk with other students who have taken internships, talk with faculty about their experiences. Attend the student chapter HFES talks and chat with real-world Ergonomists. from outside of academia.
  15. Use the web - Visit on-line job/career sites, such as (, it's a good site for career information.
  16. Cornell Career Services - check out the extensive information on the Cornell web site. 

Don't be off put by negative replies - self-confidence and persistence will pay off!

Good luck!

This page was compiled by Alan Hedge and Tim Muss. If you find any other successful strategies, please let me know (email Alan Hedge) and I'll include them on this page.

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