What college graduates can do about unemployment

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Almost a year after graduating from college, 45% of the 2020 class are still looking for work, according to a survey by career website Monster.

New graduates will join in May.

While the economy has been improving since last year, the employment outlook is still far from pre-pandemic levels. In March 2021, nearly 7.9 million Americans were less employed than in February 2020.

“Ultimately, we’re still in the hole and still in a pandemic,” said Nicole Smith, chief economist at Georgetown University Center for Education and Labor.

Younger workers are now staying behind. The overall unemployment rate in March was 6%, but 20-24 year olds face an unemployment rate of 10.3%.

2020 graduates are not eligible for unemployment benefits, although those who have worked part-time may have qualified through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program created by the CARES Act. The benefits through this federal program have been extended until Labor Day.

If they have a void on their résumé, realize that it is not uncommon during such an unprecedented pandemic.

Vicki Salemi

Monster career expert

The weak outlook has led many to take jobs out of desperation. According to Monster’s survey, conducted with Wakefield Research, 73% of recent or pending graduates said they did. Between March 16 and March 26, 2021, 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18 to 24 who have recently or will be studying and 500 U.S. adults ages 18 to 24 who are not graduates were surveyed.

Kylie Mastricola, who graduated from Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania last spring, saw many of her friends desperate for interviews. The 23-year-old was studying psychology and women’s, gender and sexuality studies and had been considering finding a company job, possibly in human resources. The pandemic changed all that.

“I felt extremely defeated and a little depressed,” said Mastricola, who lives with her parents in Jefferson, New Jersey

“Starting a career is an enormous amount of stress, let alone the fact that the world has just closed.”

Kylie Mastricola graduated from college in 2020. Discouraged by the job prospects, she started her own business.

Source: Kylie Mastricola

She was having a hard time finding jobs that qualified her and getting interviews. Other jobs she saw didn’t even require a college degree and there was still fierce competition to land a meet, she said.

To make ends meet, Mastricola gave private swimming lessons, looked after nannies and resold clothes on her Instagram account last year.

Hiring in 2021

There’s reason to be optimistic, said Monster career expert Vicki Salemi.

According to Monster’s “The Future of Work 2021” report, 82% of employers plan to hire new employees this year.

“If you have a gap on your résumé, realize that it is not uncommon during such an unprecedented pandemic,” she said.

Instead, employers mainly focus on assessing first-time job seekers in terms of interview presence (61%), internship / work experience (55%), and cultural fit (34%). This was the result of the Future of Work survey.

That means job seekers should focus on practicing their interviewing skills, Salemi said. You should also think about different types of jobs, including freelance or temporary, to at least get your foot in the door.

“Once you get a job, you can always look for a new one,” she said.

While employers may want to hire, they are cautiously optimistic, said Georgetowns Smith. Usually there is a lag between the economy improving and hiring. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the number of employees will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.

Those graduating this year may have a head start on their predecessors. Employers are hiring 7.2% more new college graduates from the 2021 class than from the 2020 class, according to a report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

The new graduates can also have another benefit. Those who have long-term jobs tend to have a harder time finding work, and some of that is psychological in nature, Smith said.

“Because the new graduates come in with all that energy, they might get even better results based just on their own expectations, strength, and drive,” she noted.

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The best thing anyone can do, according to Salemi, is not to focus on others, just to focus on the job search and interview. Look ahead, not backwards, and apply for jobs as soon as they hit your inbox.

“Employers look for reliability, adaptability and problem-solving skills,” she said.

“Your communication skills can reflect this in an interview.”

Mastricola has decided to take a break from looking for a job and is instead turning her sideline into a full-time gig. She’s now making about $ 1,000 to $ 1,200 a week in earnings reselling clothing, and is even looking for retail space. Although hopeful, she is still not sure where the future will lead her.

“I have problems with my mental health,” she said. “I feel like I’m leaving college even though I’ve been away for almost a year now.”

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