How Diverse Candidates Looking For Jobs Are Affected By COVID-19

How Diverse Candidates Looking For Jobs Are Affected By COVID-19

Liam Berry

Over 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment, and companies everywhere are forced to make cuts while much of the nation is shut down. 

With the state of the world being what it is, what must it feel like to be a college student, likely drowning in debt, who now is on the hunt for a job?

We decided to ask the students themselves. We surveyed hundreds of WayUp users on how their attitude toward finding a job has changed since the crisis — one student bluntly summed it up: “It’s a bad time to be graduating.” 

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, 53% of our respondents were confident they would find a job or internship, and only 10% thought it would be difficult. Since the crisis, those numbers have flipped — with only 10% of respondents still feeling confident, and 49% now believe that it will be difficult to find a job or internship.

The most pressing concern for over half of our respondents was whether companies would still be hiring for the roles they wanted. For the remaining respondents, 37% were worried about whether they were qualified for the positions they wanted, while 11% were more concerned about how capable they would be of doing a remote job or internship. While these numbers are startling on their own, they’re even more alarming when you factor in candidate demographics.

Our results showed that underrepresented minorities are adversely affected by the changing landscape. Candidates who self-identified as Black/African American or Hispanic/Latino are 145% more likely to feel concerned about whether they are capable of doing a job remotely than White candidates. These numbers are a stark representation that minority candidates are significantly more worried about having the appropriate setup at home to be able to work remotely.

One survey respondent, a recent grad of Hispanic/Latino descent, told us she was worried about how to make the right impression in video interviews. When asked what features of remote work are most concerning, female candidates were 70% more likely to say having the right technology and resources was a concern. With these insights in mind, employers need to prepare this cohort better and ensure that every candidate — regardless of their background — has equal access to the tools necessary to perform well in a remote-job, and to effectively interview for one. 

Our data also showed that a surprising number of diverse candidates are worried about whether they are qualified for the job or internship they wanted. Candidates of Black/African American or Hispanic/Latino descent are 48% more likely to feel unqualified in comparison to candidates who are White, according to our survey. With stats like these, employers need to ask themselves, why is it that underrepresented minorities are more worried about being qualified? Is what employers are asking for sometimes benefiting people of a specific background or race? Does this issue go back further than COVID-19?

For those still searching for jobs or internships, there’s creativity amid the concern. 

Early-career candidates told us that they were widening their search criteria to include other locations, positions, and areas of interest. 39% of respondents claim their strategy for finding a job has changed, and they’re now focusing more on finding any opportunity rather than one they’re excited about. Some said they’re focusing on essential businesses for hiring opportunities, while others are even looking at unpaid internships just to gain experience.

We saw everything from job offers rescinded to candidates getting ghosted mid-way through their interview process. And the candidates who aren’t looking for jobs right now? They’re watching how companies react to the crisis. One survey respondent said he’s using a company's treatment of employees during the crisis as a litmus test — a sharp reminder that what you do today will leave a lasting impression on GenZ.

Of course, there’s some good news that came out of our data. For companies moving forward with virtual internship programs or remote entry-level positions, you’re in luck. Our data shows that only 1% of early-career candidates would be unwilling to start an entirely remote full-time job or internship. Despite their concerns, candidates are willing to be flexible in order to gain job experience.

Virtual opportunities may also be opening the door for more diverse early-career candidates. One survey respondent who self-identified as Black/African told us that she lives in a small town with very limited resources and was previously worried about whether she would have enough money to travel to a job or internship location. Another respondent of Hispanic/Latino descent who is blind said that working remotely suited him best “to avoid the hassle of finding my way to work.”

Clearly, there’s a lot to be learned about the future of work and the future of hiring, especially as we look past summer internships and into the fall recruiting season. If this is our new normal, employers need to band together to prepare diverse candidates and make sure that this generation gets the resources they need. Whether you’re hiring or not, we can all do our part to ensure that the future of tomorrow gets supported today. After all, one day, these candidates will be our leaders, but, for now, they still need us to lead them through this. 

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