Being a young graduate in 2020

In 2019, 85% of young graduates felt confident about their professional future (les échos)

What does it look like to be thrown into the job market in 2020?

“The sacrificed generation”

Being part of this population – the graduates to be batch of 2020 – I am still trying to figure out whether this year has been a disaster in terms of professional development or not. Indeed, with a pandemic at hand, the least we could say is: this year has been a rocky ride. For those like whose graduation date coincided with COVID, advice like “preparing your entry on the job market” lost all of its value. It’s simple: nothing went according to (our career) plan. Among the 700 000 graduates who graduated this year, many are still looking for a job, my question is: will they find one by the end of the year? And seeing how the situation is evolving: will the next batch of graduates find themselves in the same situation?

Schools & Stats

To help their graduates to be navigate the situation more serenely, a lot of schools came up with new adjustments allowing us to postpone our “official” arrival on the job market. 

This partly explains why I am part of those who got away with the crisis – thanks to a new internship. However, I witnessed many friends and acquaintances struggle in job search. Surprisingly, the field of work didn’t play such a role in the number (or here lack) of positions opened. For instance, working in social entrepreneurship, I wasn’t expecting to find so rapidly a job back in summer.

An infographic showing the effects of the crisis on youth (un)employment

Here are some of the cases I found among my friends

1. When corona gets you stuck in France

For those who considered starting their professional lives abroad, corona pulled the rug out from under them. Some – like me – put their search on hold, waiting for the pandemic to calm down. Others, whose contract was pre-signed had to start working in France, without a starting date.

2. When the lack of job offers has you paying for the right to do another internship

Because as a young graduate, the school wasn’t able to help anymore and the lack of offers in the field he/she specialises got him/her to reconsider doing an internship. End of the story: the firm gains an operating collaborator working at the rate of an intern… and the graduate gains an experience, but far more important: gets out of the “I’ve got nothing loop”

3. When you manage to get hired only to be put in “technical unemployment”…

Because firms are still uncertain about their future so they hire people “just in case” but can’t staff them given the situation. Since hiring mobilises both human and financial resources, firms would rather put young collaborators on the side during their trial period while waiting for an economical rebound. And if no rebound comes, breaking the contract at the end of the sub-mentioned trial will be an option.

4. When corona has you accepting offers you didn’t consider

This friend confessed having lowered his/her standards as the months went by. After more than 7 months of job searching she/he ended up signing a contract she/he could have had at the beginning of 2020. The lack of offers had him/her reconsider starting quickly in hopes of “erasing this gap on my resume”. This story is in the last issue of my newsletter (🇫🇷 only)

5. When corona has you thinking about your life plan

Among my friends, some were considering resigning to pick up a new degree and change career paths. Seeing the economic uncertainty that came with corona some decided to postpone their projects to avoid unemployment. 

👀 so what?

I don’t know how the situation will evolve but I know for sure that corona has totally reshuffled the cards for job seekers, and surely not to their advantage. I have to admit I’m quite afraid of the work conditions some will accept in order to have a job (and sustain to their needs). The measures taken by the government in Spring forecasted (dark) times of almightiness for the employer over the employee.

I’m also asking myself this question: seeing the importance given to the resume before the crisis, how will the void of 2020 be perceived by recruiters? Will inactivity still be regarded as a flaw in one’s path?

For other articles on orientation you can check Our Millennials Today, a collection of young graduates’ stories on the topic along with short articles. This other article dives into its genesis.

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