Across the United States, 2020 graduates are looking at the job outlook with what likely is a sense of despair – only 1.8 million jobs were added to the U.S. economy in July, symbolic of the huge slowdown and job losses due to coronavirus.
According to media reports, job postings also are down. For example, Glassdoor recently said “entry level” or “new grad” job advertisements have decreased more than 65 percent in May, the most recent data available, compared to last year at the same time.
Bloomberg recently reported the number of Americans who have been unemployed for at least 15 weeks grew by about 4.7 million people in July. That was the biggest monthly increase in records back to 1948 and highlights the need for fiscal relief.
In the wake of the last recession, the number of people in the 15 weeks or more category hit a record 9.1 million in 2010, and it took four years to reduce that by half. Just how fast Americans will be able to get back to work this time is unclear.
Fred Stuvek Jr. is a businessman, entrepreneur and author who understands the challenges these new college graduates are facing. In this battered economy, the margin of error when job hunting is narrower than ever. Graduates and those newly laid off looking for a fresh start need solid, proven advice, the author of “It Starts with You” believes.
Stuvek hopes 2020 graduates won’t look into the fall with pessimism – in fact, he believes with the right attitude and enthusiasm, today’s recent college grads will find the job of their dreams within a reasonable time frame. They just need to have some hope, some resilience and some willingness to work hard in the short term, Stuvek said.
“They have to be realistic. They have to accept the fact that this is going to be a lengthy process with some disappointments along the way,” Stuvek said. “If they have unrealistic expectations of what they want to happen versus what will likely happen it will be demotivating and they will perceive (their efforts) as failure.”
That disappointment with the world around coronavirus is likely to be a byproduct of the current environment, Stuvek said. These students were taught that if they went to a good school, got good grades and had a good attitude, everything in their professional lives would turn out okay.
“That’s probably not true” right now or in the near future, Stuvek said.
But if students can look at what factors that contribute to their success – such as their work ethic, their talents and their intelligence – then they will find some way to dig out of this negative space they may be living in because of the challenges ahead.
“You have to identify those areas that best match your interests, skill set and qualifications,” Stuvek said. “For example, what motivates you? Match those beliefs, interests, values with that. You spend a lot of time at work. You don’t want to be doing something that you don’t really like or feel like you’re not motivated – that creates a mismatch. That creates dissatisfaction. That also creates stress and burnout.”
To succeed in this moment or even going forward, Stuvek said he is telling students that they need to stay motivated and not only believe in themselves, but to believe what they are doing has value within the larger world.
“You have to be able to weather these storms,” Stuvek said. “Many young people haven’t had opportunity to fail. Failure isn’t a bad thing. It is a part of success. If you try something, one of three things happen: It works. It doesn’t or you kinda get half way there. Let’s face it: Two out of three isn’t bad. Either way, you learn something. You have to learn from your mistakes, failures and build on it, adapt and move on.”
If students really want to find a way in what might seem like a dark time in terms of job prospects, they can look internally for motivation and inspiration, Stuvek said. That means really analyzing where they need to grow and addressing those gaps.
“Look at your gaps: what areas are you falling short in? If you look at the skill set required for any job – no one candidate will have every box checked. So if you have shortfalls, get training. Create coping strategies. If a young person is interviewing for a job, interviewee should be candid: I don’t have that, but I can learn it. Your candor and enthusiasm will resonate.”
In other words, Stuvek said, get on that Zoom call with the HR department of the company where you want to work. Impress them. Work the system as best as you can. Every detail is important, and you need to accept that there will be ups, downs and everything in between in 2020. But that’s reality and we all are living in it.
“I can understand how graduates are concerned about how some of them will come off on a Zoom or video interview,” Stuvek said. “But there are things you can do and shouldn’t do it improve your chances. Get well versed in terms of that process. Preparation is key – present the best version of themselves. Build your unique resume. Have a visible presence on social media. Do everything you can and be prepared for the future.”