For young people in 2022, the job situation looks bleak. We have slowly inched our way out of a pandemic only to dive straight into a recession. Entering the workforce seems impossible and many recent graduates have been stuck without a job or with little to no hope of getting hired. But can we only blame the current economic climate or are there other reasons why Gen Z’s are not working?
Students Continue to Pay the Price of the Pandemic
The students that are graduating this year have just completed one of the most unusual university experiences ever. With months in and out of campus, fragile formed relationships, and a lack of work of experience. Our recent graduates are not prepared for the new way of adulting. They have spent the last few years adapting to the digital way of working and communicating.
Though many would of thought no adaptation would be needed for those of the ‘internet age’. And while Gen-Z is known as the generation defined by the internet, this nearly virtual university experience was not what they signed up for. Hindering not only their educational outcomes but their development and ultimately their entry into the work force.
How? Well for a start, many graduate CVs are looking very bare. Previous generations would have had the opportunity to take on internships, try out new societies and take on extra work experience. All of which make sizeable contributions to a healthy looking post grad C.V! However most Gen Z’s have graduated with only their degree.
And though it feels feasible to say that doing a degree during a global pandemic demonstrates a high enough level of skill and commitment to secure a job. Unfortunately there’s no box for that on application form . So most employers see the CV lacking extra curriculars and experience and it gets pushed to the bottom of the pile. To sum it up – looking for a job as a Covid grad is nothing short of nightmarish.
Qualifications are no longer Qualified
But why is it that doing your degree is no longer enough for the workplace? Why is it becoming harder and harder each year for graduates to land jobs that utilise their knowledge and reward them for it as well? About forty years ago, all you needed to worry about was getting a good degree. Maybe doing some part-time work and boom you would have a nice new graduate job. That would also give you a good salary, which in turn would provide the opportunity to buy your first property. Which sadly is something young people these days can only dream of!
A recent TikTok sparked outrage among Gen Z’s. The video suggested that most companies aren’t looking at your degree or whether you have good grades anymore. Instead, they want to see your extra curriculars, charity work within your community and of course the side projects you should have found success in.
The pressure we put on students and graduates to have pages and pages of experience is immense. The sad thing is, this isn’t even enough for them to land an ‘entry-level job’.
A generation ago it was normal for someone to work a 9-5, five days a week and for them to be content with that lifestyle. Work was your life; you would start off in a small role and quickly ascend the ranks depending on the amount of effort you put in. Promotions and pay rises came easier and you were able to retire if you were lucky just after you hit middle age.
The work life balance has long been questionable, but at least back then it had its rewards. Now, after spending so long in ‘virtual education’ the commitment of a full time job and a commute to the office every day can be daunting. Especially in the current climate where progression and pay rises are few and far between. So its not surprising that Gen Z’s are clinging to the only benefit created by the pandemic and are looking for remote roles with flexible working schedules. This is also helping widen their scope on the job search as remote roles aren’t restricted by location. Their entire lives have become digitalised, so why not their jobs as well?
With attitudes towards work changing, retirement ages increasing, wages not matching up with the rising cost of living. It’s safe to say that Gen Z are up against it when it comes to entering the already disgruntled work force.
Some companies are however addressing this with, trials of the four-day working week. Working four days instead of five can bring about a better work ethic and more productive employees. Tipping the scales of the work life balance, seems like a smart and evolved idea! Considering how the five-day working week arose nearly half a century ago. Hybrid working is also now an option for many companies. This allows employees to ‘touch base’ at the office and work remotely for the rest of their working week.
So all is not lost for Gen Z’s. They might not be able to find the roles they want or any at all at the moment. But it seems the the evolving workplace environment and culture might be moving in their favour.
Remote and flexible working, is not the only workplace culture shift. For many there’s been a change in attitude. Introducing the trend of: ‘Quiet Quitting’. A trend where many people are pointing out how you should be able to just do what your role entails and not go above and beyond. For many employers, it has come as a shock and has ruffled a few feathers in the HR departments. Professionals have issued warnings that this way of thinking is a short-term fix and could potentially ruin your career, on the other hand, many are encouraging this attitude of working. Whether it is a good idea or not, the trend has ensured that many companies are now starting to get weary about hiring new and younger talent if this is going to become the global mindset.
But are Gen Z’s to blame? Probably not. It’s likely quiet quitting has come about as an after effect of isolation, furlough and having time to evaluate what’s really important. Rather than a generational shift in work ethic.
Hope for Recent Graduates
From one recent graduate to another, entering the workforce does seem dismal at the moment. We are currently hurtling into one of the most extreme global recessions; living costs are at an all-time high, and no matter how many applications we do and interviews we turn up to, getting a job seems impossible.
But there is more hope than you may think. Many older folks in the workforce have discovered that they have felt stagnated in their current role or want to try something else. Which has meant that many rare senior roles are now opening up.
You may believe this roles are out of reach, however career advisors are urging young people to be confident in their search for jobs. To stretch out and apply to titles they may have previously ignored. Let’s not forget that most of us have valuable knowledge gained from our degrees. We are fresh and raring to go with head’s full of new ideas! All of which are valuable assets for any hiring company. So take the risk, apply for positions that you don’t think you are ready for and see what comes from it. Who knows, you might be surprised by the outcome.