Coronavirus (COVID-19), Recruiting

COVID-19 Stifles College Graduate Career Prospects

Like those unfortunate enough to have graduated during the Great Recession, recent college grads in the COVID era are finding it hard to start their careers due to the pandemic.

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New survey findings released by Real Estate Witch reveal just how dire the situation is for college graduates. Real Estate Witch surveyed 1,000 college students to learn how COVID-19 might affect their future careers, their financial situations, and concerns about returning to campus. We’ll focus on the career aspect, as that is the most pertinent information for hiring professionals.

Careers and Jobs Insights

A vast majority (71%) of students believe COVID-19 will impact their ability to begin their career after college, finds Real Estate Witch. Survey respondents also say they are struggling to maintain jobs that sustain them during the school year. The pandemic has resulted in a job loss for one in four students working part-time jobs and one in five who were working full-time jobs this year.

Students are also having trouble finding new jobs to help boost their résumé and pay for living expenses. According to the findings, 76% of students looking for jobs for the upcoming school year reported difficulty doing so.

The pandemic has caused many college students to miss out on important career milestones they may not have gotten if it weren’t for college. For example, the biggest career concerns include missing out on internships (44%), missing out on networking events (41%), losing out on relevant job experience (38%), and fewer relationships with faculty and students who help their network (38%).

Compared with students surveyed in May 2019, students in 2020 are 64% less likely to have a part-time job to help cover expenses, and 48% are worried they won’t be able to find a job during the school year. What isn’t clear is whether that 64% is less likely to have a part-time job because they were laid off, can’t find work, or refuse to work out of concerns for their safety and well-being.

Students Are Missing Out on Résumé-Building Opportunities

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 5,266,000 job openings in May 2020, which is down from 7,245,000 the same month last year.

Real Estate Witch speculates that the drop in job openings is most likely a result of business-operation regulations related to the coronavirus lockdowns, which makes sense. But it adds that it is also possible that the overall downturn in the economy impacts job opportunities beyond the immediate future. According to the findings, it seems students are acutely aware of this possibility.

In fact, 71% of students said they believe COVID-19 will impact their ability to begin their careers after college. It’s not just the lack of job opportunities that’s concerning to students, though. Many are worried about the résumé-building opportunities they’re missing out on now as a result of precautionary measures and lockdowns.

As mentioned above, students are unable to participate in many in-person activities typically available during college, many of which can be leveraged when searching for a job after graduation.

One analysis of more than 95,000 randomly sampled jobs indicated that more than 60% of entry-level positions required some experience. Astonishingly, the typical experience required for those positions was 3 years. It’s not surprising, then, that college students are concerned about gaining experience while they’re still in school.

What Can Recruiters Do?

We are stuck in a gray area of uncertainty, so let’s go with some actionable items on ways recruiters can help college students land a job!

  • Source college candidates on the channels they use the most. What channels are these? As odd as it may sound, Snapchat. If you have Gen Z or young Millennial family members, you know these generations aren’t using Facebook as their primary social media site anymore. Connecting with talent on the appropriate social media sites will help increase your talent pool and show jobseekers that your company is up to date on all the latest and greatest tools and tech.
  • Look for transferable skills. Before COVID-19, the skills gap and the resulting talent shortage forced many employers to overlook years of experience and instead look for talents that could be applied to the role. While applicants may be flooding the market now, it doesn’t mean the skills gap got smaller. Remember to keep transferable skills in mind when reviewing students’ résumés.
  • Communicate every step of the way. Communication was essential to providing a great candidate experience before the pandemic, so don’t let the pandemic stand in your way of providing timely and relevant communication with all candidates.

Just like college grads were able to get into a career after the Great Recession, so, too, will COVID grads once the pandemic passes. If there’s one bit of advice we can offer to students, it’s this: Don’t give up, learn what makes you unique, and own your uniqueness!

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