In May of 2022, the majority of my friends graduated with their Bachelor's or Master’s degrees from Bradley University. I’ve spent the last six months hearing about their job searches and the struggles they’ve faced as they enter the workforce. I graduate in December with a BA in History and Political Science, and I find myself reflecting on the job market as I go through the job applications process myself and watch my friends go through it as well.
“Workers have an advantage in the job market now,” is a common sentiment I have been hearing. The number of position postings I have seen on Linkedin, Indeed, and company websites confirm this. However, the overall impression I have gotten from my job search is that it is very hard to “get your foot in the door.” Yes, there are a lot of job postings, but most of them require work experience that young adults who have just graduated or are about to graduate do not have. I believe COVID-19 played a role in this, as many of us did not have the same internship and job opportunities that previous college students have had since the pandemic marred our college experience. In conversations with my friends who have graduated, they have shared how difficult it has been for them to find a job post-graduation due to their lack of work experience, or the jobs that they do meet the requirements for do not pay enough. Most of my friends who have recently graduated, work more than one job to make ends meet and pay off their student debt.
Additionally, I have noticed some common values that my peers and I share in regard to the job market: we want to feel valued at our workplace, we want to feel like we are making a difference, and we want to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Flexibility and having the option to work hybrid or remotely is something that Generation Z has come to value, especially after the majority of us got used to working remotely during the pandemic. Moreover, I have noticed, that Gen Z seeks work opportunities at companies in which the leadership values and is committed to diversity and inclusion, as well as mental health. In that sense, Gen Z is holding employers to a higher standard. As Gen Z begins to make up more and more of the workforce, I think that employers will have to take these Gen Z values into consideration to attract younger employees and retain them at their company.