As a career strategist who works with young professionals just as often as senior-level ones, I’ve had the opportunity these last few months to absorb a whole spectrum of unemployment concerns from clients spanning every demographic and experience level. Everyone’s anxiety is through the roof, and regardless of age, location, or profession… we are all feeling this right now.
One group in particular may need a bit more of our help though: entry-level workers. While many of us have some hands-on experience we can leverage, a professional network, and maybe a degree, I think about how difficult this very first, COVID-19-era, job search might be for someone without those things. Recent college grads, who are under mountains of debt, are now praying they will be able to find something of substance before those loan payment kick back in. High school students that had plans other than college, now being forced out of apprenticeship and trade programs because the companies and institutions themselves are struggling. We may not think about it like this often, but those of us with a little resume-worthy “experience,” now have the largest advantage in recent history, over those who don’t, and at no fault of their own.
[Editor's note: college seniors are encountering their professional career's birth at a terrible time, and they are aware of it - check this article for more data on their stress levels]
Employers: As our country is nearing depression-era unemployment levels, I urge us to keep our budding workforce in mind right now. While many of us in our mid-30’s and up have weathered at least one recession already, we have to acknowledge that COVID-19 essentially just told 2008 to hold my beer. This is not the same job market we were flourishing in a mere three months ago, and we have to accept that some of us will have more career resilience than others, simply based on the fact that we’ve been here before.
Think I’m being hyperbolic? Okay. Close your eyes for me and think back to the first time you had to apply for a “real” job. Do you remember how terrifying it was? Now, layer on top of that memory, record-high unemployment, a nation-wide shelter-in-place order, constant anxiety for loved ones on the frontlines, and the overwhelming sense of fear related to your own personal wellbeing every time you mask-up to go buy some groceries. It’s a lot. For all of us.
So please hear me out hiring managers. This isn’t some one-sided request to hire more of one population than any other, but it is a request to please hire with compassion as time moves forward and we all begin to climb out of this. We will of course need experienced hires as we always do, but please don’t forget that people with less “specific” experience can add incredible perspective and value to your organization as well, regardless of age or education level.
I urge everyone who has the ability to, please… look at your future headcount in advance. Are there any departments who would welcome a “0-2 years experience” player on their team, or who might be open to adding even one more intern to their roster this summer? Or perhaps you have a role where the manager is open to providing on-the-job training? We need those roles right now.
Everyone likes to say “we’re in this together,” so let’s show them we are, by lifting up the people who may not have the experiential-muscle to lift themselves just yet. As this country rebuilds, we’re going to need them, too.
Do you have a 0-2 years of experience role open on your team? Email me, and I will share it with my network for you and refer you interested candidates for free.
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