Where the Graduating Class of 2020 Should Look for Job Opportunities

The decline in opportunities is a side-effect of the global pandemic that is wreaking havoc the world over. But with a little openness and a lot of pivoting, graduates can find opportunities where they might not have searched before.
Carolyne Njeri

Carolyne Njeri

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Graduating school is truly one of life’s biggest milestones. Starry-eyed and with a degree in your hand, you are confident that you’ll conquer the world. However, the path to career success is often paved with struggle and hardship. This is especially true for the class of 2020, which has been released into a job market riddled with economic downturn, uncertainty and increased saturation. Their entry into the market has come at a time when even experienced professionals are having a difficult time safeguarding their jobs. As such, the employment opportunities this year are ridiculously thin for graduates.

The decline in opportunities is a side-effect of the global pandemic that is wreaking havoc the world over.  A BBC article reported in April that a total of 81% of the global workforce of 3.3 billion people had their workplace fully or partly closed as a result of the virus. To put this crisis into perspective, the article calls this economic slump “the worst crisis since World War 2,” predicting that at the end of the year, the global unemployment figure could stand at a staggering 25 million. The situation is grimmer for graduates who have limited work experience. Internships have been canceled, job offers rescinded and the possibility of defaulting on student loan repayments is slowly becoming a reality for many of these graduates.

Industry shifts

Like in any crisis, some sectors have been more hard-hit than others. The accommodation, travel and manufacturing industries, for example, have seen the worst of this pandemic. Since movement has been limited, they have had to make do with temporary closures and the inability of their workers to report to work due to social distancing guidelines. The oil and gas industry, which is the largest earner in the MENA region, has been sent into a downward spiral by the reduction of the price per barrel of the product. So graduates who were looking forward to joining the workforce in these industries have been sorely disappointed.

On the other hand, some industries have been greatly thriving in the face of calamity. E-commerce workspaces such as Amazon have seen an increase in their orders, having to add 100,000 new employees into their fold to help field new requests. Health and pharmaceutical titans have had to expand their operations almost two-fold to meet the increased demand for PPEs and drugs to combat the effects of the virus. Tech companies such as Zoom have seen an exponential increase in usage, with the conferencing platform’s share price leaping by almost 50%. Streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney+ also reported great profits in the second quarter of 2020. It is therefore safe to conclude that some job opportunities still exist for the newly-graduated students.

Identifying these shifts and readjusting career goals in this new reality will serve these students well. In a market crippled with uncertainty, they should open themselves up to working in industries that wouldn’t have been their first choice.

Getting employed in the middle of a pandemic

Just because the internship or job you had lined up might have fallen through, you should not use that as an excuse to give up on your dreams. Although Coronavirus won’t last forever, its end can’t be accurately predicted. You might lose precious time waiting for it to subside so your initial potential employer can bring their offer back to the table. These times are uncertain, so you have to pivot to survive. Don’t be too picky- some graduates only want job offers directly related to their major. But right now, you have to bear in mind that you’ll be competing for the scarce job opportunities with other seasoned workers who have been downsized from their companies.

Recruitment firms are a good place to start. Even in the middle of a pandemic, they can be able to scrape up a job opportunity for you, even if it’s short-term. Another way to secure a job is to grow your network. Reach out to friends, family and former classmates to link you up with any opportunities that they may come across. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn have an extensive network of employers and company executives that are always looking to hire.

Going Freelance

A few years ago, freelancing was considered work for stay at home moms or starving artists. But nowadays, it has become a legitimate source of employment for many people all over the world. Deloitte reported that 60% of companies are now looking to hire employees on a freelance basis after having to furlough or fire some of their permanent staff. Even technical professionals like lawyers and engineers offer their services on an on-demand basis. So you’ll be in good company whatever your field of interest is. Freelancing can be a great way of making money as you wait for your other opportunities to pan out. Or you can take the route that many graduates before you have taken- becoming a full-time freelancer.

Freelancing makes it easy for you to work from wherever you are in the world. So you can maintain your current living situation and still make a living. Additionally, you won’t risk getting sick by going to a physical office space when offices begin to reopen. Getting started on freelancing can be difficult but with reputable platforms such as Ureed.com, that are a mainstay in the freelance industry, your job search can be made way easier. Plus, they take payments from the employer beforehand and keep it in escrow, so you’re assured that you’ll get your due. Working on these platforms ensures that you are paid fairly, on-time and your rights are safeguarded.

What does the future hold?

Although we can’t accurately predict what will happen post-Coronavirus, one thing is certain: big changes are on the horizon. Here are some predictions rounded up from various career experts that students can use to future-proof their careers:

  • There’ll be a departure from traditional 9-5 jobs. If the pandemic has made anything clear, it’s that employees can work from anywhere and their efficiency is improved when they’re not limited to the traditional work hours. This will greatly boost the already thriving gig industry. Freelance is the future of work.
  • Digitization will be inevitable. Tools that make remote work easier will take center stage. Employers in the future will definitely show a bias towards employees who possess these skills.
  • Business travel will become rare. Most important meetings and pitches will be conducted through audio and video conferencing to limit the spread of diseases. Graduates will have to hone skills in virtual communication and presentation.
  • Increased demand for career-oriented degrees. Historically, in the midst of an economic crisis, there’s always an increase in demand for professionals in engineering, healthcare, education, tech and business.
The Takeaway

Most leaders of industry are in consensus that the class of 2020 has graduated into one of the toughest job markets in the recent past. However, it is still possible to secure employment in this harsh economic climate. Decisions like diversifying skills, moving beyond your comfort zone and being aggressive in your job search will ensure you weather this storm with astounding success.

If you’re a recent graduate looking to begin your career as a freelancer, reach out to Ureed.com and join a network of 35K+ freelancers across 150+ industries.

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