Graduates struggle to find work—’job hunt fatigue’ to hit by Christmas

Experience isn't everything: what else can you offer to a company in 2020?

Is your executive looking for a fresh approach to business? Or an employee who is adaptable and can manage change? It’s the easier option to hire an employee with years of experience, but in these unprecedented times, perhaps a young, fresh mind is exactly what your company needs.

Only 16% of graduates looking for their first job since March have been successful, with the new cohort of graduates from the summer set to hit ‘job hunt fatigue’ by Christmas—claims staffing business Walters People, who surveyed 2,000 UK graduates.

The news comes amid the launch of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Kickstart Scheme, aimed at getting young people who are at the risk of long-term unemployment into work by funding newly created 6-month job placements offered by employers.

Whilst there are yet to be signs of masses of companies rushing to sign up to the scheme, job market confidence among the young (18-24 yrs) has dropped by almost 20%—in 2019 85% of graduates felt optimistic about their future, compared to 67% of graduates in 2020.

Director of Walters People, Phill Westcott, comments:

“In times of crisis or uncertainty, companies tend to hire experience over potential—which is why the junior-end of the jobs market has been so badly hit.

“However, what large firms will miss out on, if they do continue to pause graduate-hiring schemes, is a generation of fresh ideas, digital know-how, and innovation—hindering the UK’s competitive advantage in what is an increasingly global market

“Typically start-ups and fast-growing SME’s have been quick to hire talented junior professionals who illustrate potential to grow with the business; however, with some of the smaller companies hit the hardest, and training & development budgets temporarily frozen; there are less opportunities for those looking to get their first step on the ladder.”            

A Change in Hiring Tactics

According to Walters People, businesses have pivoted their recruitment approach during lockdown, which led to a 67% increase in video job interviews and a 40% increase in use of online testing platform. As a result, the number of job offers made remotely during lockdown tripled compared to the general average pre-lockdown.

Phill adds: “Things are not the same, and times have changed very rapidly and so my advice to young job seekers is to approach your job hunt differently to what you would have done pre-Covid.

“Rather than email or submitting a CV, revamp your approach by creating a quick video detailing your experience whilst illustrating your personality. Start to understand the key words and skills in your preferred job specs and align your LinkedIn and online profiles to reflect this.

“In this current market you have to almost ‘convince’ a business as to why they need you—be bold in your approach, share ideas, show your passion for the industry, and get across why you believe change can lead to opportunity—as this is the type of mindset that a business is seeking from any new starter, be it junior or someone much more experienced.”