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Graduates forced to navigate job market unlike anything ever seen

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    HARTFORD, Conn. (WFSB) — Jobless claims continue to soar during the pandemic, now exceeding 40 million nationwide.

This as a new crop of high school and college graduates is set to enter the workforce.

Experts said they’re entering a job market unlike anything ever seen.

Some are seeing offers for jobs and internships pulled back. However, there are things they can do to help their chances.

“I found so many internships and jobs, and I applied but then the freeze happened,” said Ashley Gittens, a University of Connecticut graduate from Norwalk.

Like most recent graduates, Gittens said she was trying to get an early start on her career. She applied for several human resources jobs. By April, things quickly came to a halt.

“Make no mistake, this is probably the most terrible job market that a student can graduate into over maybe two or three lifetimes,” said Umesh Ramakrishnan, co-CEO, Kingsley Gate Partners.

A typical recession is due to underlying problems in one or more sectors of the economy. However, in the current COVID-19 pandemic, many portions of the economy were forced to shut down. The result was more than 40 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits.

“I think it will take a little bit of time for companies and organizations to really see how the economy bounces back,” said Nancy Bilmes, director, UConn Career Services Center.
Experts said it could take a year or longer before companies have hired back laid off workers and redesigned operations.

In the meantime, graduates have some options.

“Maybe your first, the job you thought would be your first job, maybe that becomes your second job down the road,” Bilmes said.

The first thing is to be open to different types of jobs. Also, take the time to network and even do practice interviews. College career service centers offer practice, as do some private companies.

“Seek out people who know, and they’ll be glad to help you,” Ramakrishnan said.

Also try to speak with professionals about the current job market. If you can’t find work, see what skills are in demand and try to find online classes and workshops.

Gittens said she’s also speaking with a sibling who graduated around the time of the 2008 crash. She knows it’s tough now, but she’s still confident.

“I’m still going to keep my head up,” Gittens said. “I understand it’s going to be hard, but in the end when I do get something, it’ll be that much greater.”

A tip for parents: Give children space and realize that even the hiring process has changed.

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