With graduation just two months away, I simply cannot process the fact that I have already begun searching for my first “real” job after college. But this search looks quite different than what I had expected pre-COVID, where I envisioned limitless opportunities available to me and my peers. Now, the overwhelming majority of job openings have shifted to remote work, stripping young graduates of the worldly experience they could otherwise have benefited from.
Indeed, an American worldwide employment website for job listings has been tracking how COVID-19 has impacted the global labor market. According to its findings, job postings declined drastically in March of last year, but have been slowly trickling upward since early May.
This new reality has shown me the importance of connections and perseverance. Without the ability to meet most people in person, it is even more crucial to stay connected with them, whether through follow-up emails, sending thank you notes to interviewers or any other methods to keep in touch with professionals and potential employers.
For as long as I can remember, my professors, parents and peers have stressed the importance of networking to me. I used to find the popular catchphrase, “it’s not about what you know, it’s who you know,” to be cheesy. Now more than ever I understand the weight this one phrase carries.
Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve found myself using LinkedIn much more. This business and employment-oriented online service has allowed me to connect with and message professionals from all over the world, particularly in the job field I’m interested in.
It has opened up more opportunities for myself than I could ever have imagined simply by striking up conversations with people and asking about themselves or for advice.
The pandemic has helped to foster my appreciation for social media and technology and the limitless capabilities and opportunities they provide us.
Platforms like LinkedIn have helped me to realize that I’m not alone. I can’t even begin to count the number of posts I’ve seen from other individuals about their struggles in finding jobs post-college.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, young workers are more likely to be in jobs impacted by COVID-19, as a quarter of young workers are employed in leisure and hospitality, where employment declined by 41% between February and May 2020.
The institute reported that last year, from spring 2019 to spring 2020, the overall unemployment rate for young workers ages 16-24 jumped from 8.4% to 24.4%, and among all workers, young workers have had the largest job losses since February 2020.
Naturally, these grim statistics are discouraging for many recent and soon-to-be graduates like myself, but we shouldn’t allow these numbers to define us.
Not to mention, when you pair that with the number of inspirational posts I read daily about young professionals applying to hundreds of jobs and persevering and finally being given an offer, my hopes in terms of finding a job have skyrocketed!
If anything, this trying time should serve as a healthy challenge for young graduates. We shouldn’t allow this challenging time to beat us down; instead, we should use it as fuel to work hard and remain even more persistent in searching for jobs.
The job search unquestionably looks different, yet, also promising. That gives me hope.