The coronavirus has reshaped the graduate employment market in many ways. How can your institution prepare its graduates for success in this new climate?
For many students, the prospect of beginning their higher education journey during the coronavirus pandemic has been difficult to process.
However, this period has also been unsettling for students who are coming to the end of their higher education experience.
Students often attend university with the hope that it will propel them towards a desired career or provide them with general skills they can then utilize in the workplace.
However, due to the pandemic, the graduate employment market has undergone several changes, meaning that recent or future graduates may find themselves unprepared for the new market.
How can your institution ensure it provides its graduates with up-to-date skills and information to navigate the employment market in the wake of the pandemic?
While there is still a lot unknown about what the post-coronavirus world will look like, experts say it’s unlikely to return to exactly how it was before the outbreak.
According to Forbes, this shift will see a change in the skills employers will look for in their staff. The skills that are likely to be in demand are:
- Flexibility and adaptability
- Tech savviness
- Creativity and innovation
- Data literacy
- Critical thinking
- Digital and coding skills
- Emotional intelligence
We’re already seeing a huge shift in the way companies operate with reductions in international travel and a move towards working from home.
With this in mind, there will likely be a sustained and long-term increase in independent and flexible working, as well as a greater reliance on technology and data.
Going forward, it’s crucial that your institution places greater focus on teaching students these hard and soft skills.
CV development and interview preparation, as well as other careers services at your institution, should focus on how each student can highlight their experience with these skills during the recruitment process.
Another key difference in the post-coronavirus world is that graduates are likely to experience a shift to virtual interviews.
With the risks associated with the coronavirus likely to remain for some time, most students will be asked to conduct job interviews via phone or video.
Ensure your students are practiced in virtual job interviews and that they are equipped with the online software or programs needed to take part.
As provided by LinkedIn, here are a few virtual interview tips to give your students:
- Test your web connection, microphone, and webcam before beginning the interview
- Conduct the interview in a quiet room with no distractions
- Ensure the space is well-lit
- Dress like you would for an in-person interview to ensure you give the right impression
- Plan a few questions to ‘break the ice’ at the start of the interview, to ensure the virtual barrier or any awkwardness is diminished before you begin
The coronavirus crisis has created an uncertain and unsettling world, which makes it incredibly difficult to develop concrete plans.
Before the pandemic, students may have had a strict career path in mind, with the attainment of a degree being a key part of this.
However, the coronavirus has thrown many industries into uncharted waters, in turn affecting their approach to hiring in the foreseeable future.
For example, students wishing to venture into the arts and entertainment industries may face multiple obstacles, as many venues remain closed and organizations at a stand-still while the pandemic continues.
Other companies in a range of industries are also having to undergo budget cuts to counter the impact of the pandemic, which can stop the hiring process in its tracks.
It’s important that students understand they may no longer have access to the opportunities they expected and will need to take a less direct route into their chosen career.
Johnathan Black, director of the Careers Service at the University of Oxford, responded to a concerned graduate that had written into the Financial Times about his struggle to get a graduate job in this tough economic climate.
Black advises the graduate to ask himself the following questions: “While you consider the diminishing available opportunities, start by assessing what you know about the industry. What skills and experiences do they seek? Can you gain those skills now in other routes?”
As such, students who are aiming to venture into an industry that has been affected by the pandemic don’t need to abandon their career goals altogether, but they may need to seek alternative routes or options to get there.
For more information on how the graduate employment market is changing, please see our QS Employers Insights Report 2020.