Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Class of 2020 navigating jobs through the pandemic

Published: Aug 10, 2020 11:58:00 AM IST
Updated: Aug 10, 2020 12:26:18 PM IST

If you are a new graduate unsure of your future during the pandemic, you are not alone. New graduates have experienced major and unexpected changes in their plans due to the spread of COVID-19. However, there are steps you can take to take charge and make informed choices about your future in these difficult times. The spread of the new coronavirus has affected or disrupted the way graduates prepare to leave college. Some were looking for jobs or awaiting feedback from employers regarding applications they had made, while others had already been accepted for internships, seasonal jobs or full-time jobs after graduation. Many of these graduates were uncertain if these confirmed opportunities were at risk or if the potential opportunities would be canceled by employers. The trend in job postings for freshers was roughly in line with last year’s trend until the first week of March. Slowdown accelerated in the second half of March and through April to May reflecting lockdowns on economic activity. From May till now we see hiring trends slowly go up and regain momentum. Job postings on Indeed India for white-collar freshers in June were growing 30.4% slower than in the same period in 2019. 

The job market for freshers will likely be tougher than we have seen for a number of years. Fewer available jobs, combined with greater competition for those jobs, will squeeze out some new graduates. Higher unemployment normally translates into softer wage growth. The COVID-19 crisis will be no different in that regard, although quantifying the likely impact right now is difficult. Freshers may need to consider their options and improve their qualifications and skills to make themselves more appealing in a tough job market.

While it may be difficult, there are measures you can take right now to help you navigate this situation to the best of your ability.  

Consider short-term or unexpected work in the interim 

Depending on your financial situation, it may be necessary to consider short-term work or work outside your area of expertise while employers adjust to the coronavirus spread. These jobs may not be the type of work you may have anticipated, but having an extra income can help you navigate this uncertainty after graduation with more confidence. Remote and in-person jobs actively hiring right now could include customer service representatives, warehouse distribution, grocery inventory and stocking and food delivery. If you are able to work during this time, adding experience to your resume could help improve your resume and give you an advantage in the long-run. Showing employers that you were able to adjust to this challenging situation could make your application more competitive. When looking for job opportunities, prioritize transferable skills and soft skills that could support you in your chosen career path. Even if a job is not in your ideal industry, there may be opportunities to develop skills that you can leverage later when applying for future jobs. For example, complex problem solving, remote software use, defusing conflict and communication are experiences that could be added to your resume in the future.

Prepare yourself for remote hiring and online networking alternatives 

Whether or not you are searching for jobs in your intended field, becoming comfortable with remote hiring and online networking alternatives could improve your ability to get hired. Virtual interviews are likely to become more popular in the short-term. Meanwhile, remote networking and professional social media accounts may become more important as professionals move increasingly online. Practicing mock video interviews and phone interviews with one other person and in a group with other people you trust can help prepare you for real remote hiring. Remote interviews and conferencing can have unexpected quirks that are not present during in-person interviews. For example, social cues to know when you can speak without interrupting someone during a video call may be different than a face-to-face conversation. Creating a professional presence on social media and on remote networking groups may also help you find opportunities and meet professionals in your chosen field while social distancing. Join professional interest and industry groups online and interact with similar professional social accounts to expand your network and improve your online profile. Networking, mentorship and informational interviews can be done remotely and could help better prepare you to enter the workforce after graduation. 

Prepare yourself for slower-than-normal hiring and onboarding at this time 

You may want to prepare yourself for slower-than-normal hiring and onboarding as employers adjust how they hire candidates for jobs. Tempering your expectations as you graduate and enter the workforce could help you as employers adjust to this new environment. 

Sectors hiring for freshers and graduates right now

We have found that of all the white-collar fresher/graduate jobs on Indeed India, Software and Technology Marketing, Sales, and HR are the top four industries and sectors that drive maximum demand for freshers. 

No matter what you decide to do, it is important to acknowledge that you are facing challenges as a new graduate entering the workforce that many people will never experience. Above all, take care of yourself and the people around you as we navigate this situation together.

Disclaimer: The views, suggestions and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Forbes India journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.