Job hunting in times of a pandemic

Hello! How are you? Thank you for accepting to come and talk about your experience as a young graduate in a pandemic. You told me you’ve been looking for a job since January. How are you doing, did you find any lead?

Well, that’s precisely what’s hard. We don’t see it yet, but we are going through a major economic crisis.

As far as I’m concerned I can tell you one thing: hiring is frozen. I don’t know for other positions, but at least for juniors entries. But unless you’re actively looking for a job, it’s not visible yet. A friend of mine started his job search in August. It’s only then that he sent me a message to comment on the lack of offers.

As I have been searching since the January of the year, I have seen the situation evolve as along with the pandemic. In March – when the quarantine was announced in France –, business was running as usual and so were offers. At the time, we all thought the situation was temporary. Well … no one could have predicted we were on for two months. In my case, interviews were still taking place remotely for the firms I applied to. However, when it was announced that quarantine would be extended, all recruitment procedures stopped. There came a time where we hit rock bottom. There were no more job offers. No more publishing or recruiting newsletters. The last offers I stumbled upon on Jobteaser or Linkedin were 10-11 days old. No matter how much I updated, changed sites, nothing helped.

When you think about it, picture that we are more than 700,000 graduates per year. We can easily assume that figure has not changed in 2020. Imagine: 700,000 people looking for a job considering this lack of offer on the market. I’m sure we were hundreds to apply whenever a company released one. Companies were already sorting applicants beforehand. Now they can be even harsher on the criteria. The jobs I’m targeting are tailored for graduates who share a lot of similarities. Our resumes must all look alike, so the competition is harsher. They’ll dive into details to differentiate us…

In addition, companies have to deal with this new uncertainty. To navigate it, some of them adopt debatable strategies. For instance, friend of mine had her probationary period coming to an end in March. The company renewed him in the hope that business would pick up afterwards … they fired him in July. Of course they prefer to keep new recruits in case activity picks up – since holding interviews etc. takes time, and requires investment – but activity is not really picking up. So they dispose of people as if they were replaceable. And who could blame them seeing the graduates in despair searching for a job? 

statistics: 700,000 students graduate each year

I see. I have to say: when I saw that the school gave us the possibility of doing an additional internship I didn’t think twice about the offer. It’s so hard to predict what will happen next.

If you can still do it, go for it. I really think it’s the best option. Take an internship, wait for the situation to calm down, and look for a job next year. This is what I recommend to anyone who can still do it. For me it was too late.

I’m curious though: did recruiters tell you anything about your 6-month gap on your resume?

Nothing. But actually, I do not tell them the date of graduation. I just say I’m one of those COVID graduates, usually that’s enough [laughs]. Some people don’t quite realise what it means so I have explain to them what a mess it is.

And I have extended my research over time. I even sent my resume to companies that didn’t interest me when I initially started my job search…. But hey, COVID came by

And you did not think of taking the opportunity to take a break, volunteer etc. ?

I sure would have done something else with those 6 months if I had been told in March how the market will be in September. But we didn’t have that insight, so we waited. I told myself “next month will be better, just hold on”… and 6 months passed by. Besides, I don’t really know what I could have done. We couldn’t leave our houses, travel was prohibited … that leaves few options.

Yes, quarantine certainly left little room for travel or leisure as a matter of fact. How do you see the next few months? Do you think the situation will resolve itself?

I hope so ! Frankly, I’m at that point where I know I will accept any positive answer I get, whatever might be the offer. Being interested in the job doesn’t even matter. I just need a job for now. I’ll learn, avoid the gap in my resume, and start searching once it settles.

I get it, it’s all about security right now. It’s kind of sad when you think about it. We might be a whole generation making this observation. And do you think the crisis will have an effect on the next students generations? I wonder if, we are not “taking” internships or jobs from them with all that jazz.

To be honest, I hadn’t thought of it. It’s postponing the crisis but I’m sure they’ll find a way to have an internship. They maybe won’t be as interesting as the ones we had, but they’ll have time to make it up. For us it’s the real world now.

That’s true! Well we’ll see how it unravels in the next few months. I’m crossing my fingers for you anyways, keep me posted about your jobs search!

September 2020

note: Our millennial accepted a job offer 2 days after this interview. Now s·he is waiting brighter days to start job searching again

Tags: No tags

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *