2021 Graduates Job Search: Maneuvering the Employment Landscape amidst COVID-19

It’s almost graduation season for our college attendees, and across the U.S., their college experience for their final year was like none other.  Students may not have stepped foot on campus for months on end, or even for an entire year, due to distant learning and closed campuses mandated by COVID restrictions. As they work to complete their studies, they have also been hard at work trying to land their first official career position. The 2021 graduates job search process likely has changed, too.
Thankfully, this generation of graduates is no stranger to technology, allowing them to navigate the changes that online interviewing, remote internships and zoom meetings have brought to their career preparation. 2021 graduates know what it’s like to access schoolwork in the cloud, understand how apps work on a mobile phone and have never really lived a life without Wi-Fi in most areas of the world.
We venture to say that 2021 grads are highly adaptable to the new world of work and will transition well to the increase in remote work options and conducting business online. However, our recent grads in some instances may miss out on those “first job” experiences, depending on how much in-person or in-office job time is allowed or required.

Taking a new approach

For some professionals in industries like IT, marketing, and finance, the availability of remote work jobs or hybrid work models is increasing. This creates somewhat less opportunities for traditional networking, conference meetings around a board table, or general day-to-day interpersonal interactions that happened at the office. New employees will not only need to “learn the ropes” in a more solitude environment, but they will also have to be proactive in joining networking groups and understanding the internal structure of their organization and where they can go for help.
This is a great opportunity for organizations to evaluate their onboarding process and pay particular attention to how they include new employees for whom this may be their first professional job. While onboarding occurs for all employees new to a company, many professionals may already have industry experience and a relative frame of reference of how a corporation operates. A recent grad may need some additional guidance and training to get acclimated and the onboarding process should accommodate for that learning curve. 

Taking new grads under your wing

It could be helpful for organizations to establish or enhance an existing program of providing a mentor or work advisor to assist grads new to the job. Much like students have advisors at school, a work advisor creates a softer transition, supports a new employee and provides a better foundation for their growth and future success. Recruiters can help identify organizations that offer this type of support network. They can assist new grads in making these connections and finding the right match for their first position.

Taking advantage of contract work

The traditional career trajectory has changed over the last two or three decades. Once before it followed a standard path: school, graduate, land job, work, get promoted, retire. With the explosion of tech in business, the Great Recession and the Pandemic, workforce structures have noticeably shifted. Professionals must continually reskill, upskill and adapt to workplace changes, while employers compete to find and retain the best talent and adjust to industry changes at breakneck speeds.
We are seeing a rise in organizations creating a multi-faceted workforce that includes permanent full-time hires together with consultants who are often specialized to a task and work on a contract basis. While a new grad may not possess the credentials that a seasoned consultant brings to the table, consultant-based work could still be a great opportunity for them. Eager to enter the workforce and gather as much knowledge as the can at the start of their career, newly graduated employees bring a fresh perspective to an organization and much needed diverse-thought, especially as companies realize that the younger generation will be comprising over 75% of the workforce. In some instances, graduates have also been training in the latest industry tech or processes as well, bringing new skills and information to an organization. Recruiters and organizations that build relationships with academic institutions to identify internships, project-based work and entry-level consulting positions to fully tap into the next-gen of workers will be ahead of the game in securing the talent of the future.

Taking on the 2021 graduates job search together

The next graduate class as we mentioned above has mastered the skill of using technology to network like no other working generation before. With the ability to connect with one another, their own sphere of influence is big and ripe with opportunities. Creating job groups, cross-posting available positions, making introductions and unifying to collectively tackle the job landscape will provide yet another support system for college grads when they rely on each other to pave the way.
Landing a first job is exciting and daunting at the same time, and a most memorable experience. Current events however have added another level of complexity and uncertainly to what the future of work holds. By extending services, creating partnerships and encouraging a younger workforce, organizations who support new grads at the forefront are setting up a talent pipeline that will serve them well into the future.
At Matlen Silver, we recognize talent and are in the business of facilitating working relationships that “work.” We love hearing fresh voices and helping our clients and consultants create connections that drive success for both parties. Contact us today to discuss your needs for working with the newest working generation.

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