Securing a job in the middle of a pandemic is a catch-22 situation. With hirings at an all time low and the number of active jobseekers at an all time high, the harmony of the job ecosystem is totally disrupted. The only way to come out of this is through grit & resilience. Remember the King Bruce & Spider story we read in childhood? Jobseekers need to be that spider, who didn’t give up!
In the wake of COVID-19, lockdown & social distancing are necessities we can’t run away from. While our healthcare system is fighting tirelessly to provide adequate support to patients, lakhs of working professionals are stranded in the midst of joblessness. The global economy will shrink by 5.2% in 2020, forecasts the World Bank in its June 2020 Global Economic Prospects report. This is also expected to be the worst recession since the Second World War.1 Organizations are struggling with demand creation. Slashing salary hikes and introducing pay cuts is one solution, but is it enough? In order to survive, companies have no other option than to downsize and work with minimal resources.
Being a jobseeker in such times is not easy. From pursuing recruiters for months to being lost in a sea of applicants, this process can test your mettle to bits. Factors like being the sole bread earner of the family, loss of identity, not having any income, can be mind-boggling for jobseekers. Companies are going to all lengths to support their redundant employees, at the same time reduce employment liability risk. Outplacement Services, a laudable initiative by responsible organizations, aids laid-off employees. It does not necessarily mean helping employees find a job, but includes a wide array of services like resume & profile building, training for interviews, job search strategy, enhancing job-seeking skills, coaching & counselling.“There is a spike in demand for outplacement services this year since organizations are being forced to make the difficult decision to temporarily furlough or permanently lay off employees. Sectors like travel & hospitality, IT, manufacturing and automotive industry are actively availing outplacement services. We anticipate the impact on the economy and scenarios for recovery will lend a lasting structural impact on the job ecosystem and careers" says Marco Valsecchi, Country Manager & MD, Adecco Group.
In times like these, when career progression looks difficult, investing time in upgrading skills & marketability is a clever move. The virus induced lockdown saw a steep surge in enrolments as people focussed on updating their skills & knowledge bank. Udemy, an online learning platform, experienced a 425% increase in enrolments during lockdown. 2 A sudden break from the rat race has also ensued individuals to question their career trajectory. A lot of working professionals are considering taking a break & pursuing education full time. An MBA or Masters could be a good investment for the future. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), during economic recessions, unemployment rates increase, which has a positive short term impact on higher education enrollment as opportunity costs decrease. 3 Organizations are also stepping forward to help their employees and make them ready for the future. Recently, Ernst & Young, in association with Hult International Business School, announced the first virtual MBA program, free of cost, for all its 284,000 employees in more than 150 countries.4
While pursuing higher education may sound like a plan, but what about the recently graduated talent pool? According to a survey by job portal Naukri.com, almost two-thirds of college grads are unable to find jobs5 Premier Indian B-schools like several Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), Mumbai’s NMIMS have reported companies revoking job offers or deferring joining. (Source 6) A hotspot for IT professionals & students aspiring for higher education - US - has turned its back on the world citing unemployment as the primary reason. Past few months saw multiple changes & restrictions in student & work visas in the US. Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently announced suspension of new F-1 & M-1 visas for students (who were not already enrolled as of March 9) if they intended to take their course entirely online. The Trump organization further imposed visa restrictions by suspending issuance of new H-1B, H-2B, J, and L non-immigrant visas in the US. The White House clarifies that this will help US combat employers' misuse of H-1B visas, which has been replacing qualified American workers with low-cost foreign labour. Indian employees, especially from tech industry, have no other option than to wait till the end of year in the hope of pursuing their American dream.
Bringing a sigh of relief to jobseekers, some sectors like pharma, edtech, e-commerce and logistics have scaled up business during lockdown & are actively hiring. Contractual hiring is on the rise as companies seek to resolve talent crunch the best affordable manner & least liabilities. The universal condition of the job market has united the working community to come together & help jobseekers in all possible manners. Initiatives such as dedicated forums for connecting jobseekers to hiring managers, laid off candidates getting preference in hiring, etc can be seen on social media. Digitalization has helped people connect in the era of physical distancing, but the urge for “old normal” to return lingers. Finding employment in a pandemic will be difficult for sure, but holding onto hope & sanity is the key to surviving this.
- COVID-19 to Plunge Global Economy into Worst Recession since World War II: World Bank Org
- New Udemy Report Shows Surge in Global Online Education in Response to COVID-19: Udemy
- Research on Admission and Applications trends: GMAC
- EY announces first-ever virtual corporate MBA free to all EY people
- Almost two-thirds of college grads can't find a job: Survey (ET)
- Job offers continue to be revoked at B-schools: ET