We have reviewed your CV and have carefully considered your qualifications. While your skills are certainly impressive, we have decided to pursue other candidates for this position.
This has been the content of 50% of the emails in my inbox over the past few months. I have been applying for the most diverse jobs during summer, hoping to have a stable position by the beginning of autumn. Turns out, my expectations have been too high - in terms of finding a job this soon, at least. For some positions I have applied to, I have heard no words in return. So I guess they didn't like my CV (though a response would have been appreciated).
After having applied to 3 positions this morning while having breakfast, and since the other half of my inbox is currently composed of Amazon orders, Netflix reminders and DuoLingo threats, I have decided to treat myself with a little adventure, and dived into the web in search of the reason(s) why finding a job in Europe these days is THAT diffucult.
It is no surprise that the pandemic has had a huge impact on (un)employment rates in Europe. The forced lockdowns in some countries have led to the closure (partial or total) of some of the big names of the industrial sector: companies that had the chance to work remotely could keep most of their employees on smart working, while others - the food and hospitaly sectors, non-essential shops - have had to put them into uneployment benefits or, if not possible, to fire them. Even those that had found a job in the weeks preceding the spread of the virus are now forced to send out their CVs again, because the position they had successfully acquired is no longer available, or because the company that hired them was forced to shut their doors indefinitely. Needless to say, the hardest hit section of the population with regards to not finding a job is the youngest one: those aged 18-24, freshly out of high school or university, have less chances to find a job in 2020 than they would have had in the past years, the World Economic Forum argues. The economic crisis of 2008 has left many companies out of business and the newly graduated out of work: those seeking a job during the years following the economic collapse, not finding any, eventually lost their will to keep up with the skills needed in the job market. The same thing is likely to happen to those looking for a position in 2020, even more so because now more than ever the european market is reticent to hire new people on a permanent basis, favouring short term contracts instead. A solution to this could be apprenticeships: giving young people an opportunity to learn a job before entering the job market could give them more opportunities in future job searches, though it is sometimes not clear if the skills they acquire will actually be needed.
This is the everlasting obstacle everyone has had the chance to fight against during their job search: you are either over-qualified or not qualified at all for the position you are applying to.
When you log into one of the many job searches engines out there, the majority of open positions usually requires no less than two fluently spoken languages and a previous experience in a related work field. Also, you need to have a high school diploma or a higher level of education. Here is my dilemma: I DO speak two languages fluently, and I DO have a Bachelor's degree BUT I DO NOT have previous experience for some of the openings I would like to apply to. To recap: I am both qualified and not qualified enough for the job position I am seeking. Hence, the message I have put at the beginning of this article.
According to the Wall Street Journal, there are several reasons why employers are skeptical about hiring people with high qualifications, either the ones with a previous successful experience and freshly graduated applicants with immaculate CV and grades. As for the first category, companies tend to expect less commitment from highly qualified applicants, both to the company itself and to the position they could be offered. This leads prospective employers to hire someone with less experience because they think the newly employed will be more keen to keep the position and more motivated to do the job right. As for graduates, those coming from top universities and with top grades are more likely to act as a prima donna in their work place, competing against each other instead of working for the benefit of the company. Also, employers could be suspicious about the reasons an applicant is looking for a lower salary position: they might be looking for a temporary work until they find something more suitable to their CV.
This is a struggle many young people have had to go through, in numerous work fields. And there is the chance that rejection after rejection after rejection, people would just go for any job opportunity they are offered, no matter what their skills, experience or expectations are. Consequently, after they have landed a job that gives them the opportunity to pay the rent and buy a cheap car, they would not go seeking for a job that actually fits their expectation, or education, and will not bother to keep their skills up to date for a future and better carreer.
Youth unemployment data is not looking good: according to Eurostat, 17% of the EU youth had no job as per July 2020, 2 points more than the same month last year. Figures are even worse if we take countries individually: almost 42% of spaniards and more than a third of italians under-25 were unemployed in July. The latest data available for Greece, May, 2020, showed a 37.5% unemployment rate in the ellenic state. We are certainly far from the dramatic data of the first quaterly of 2013, when almost 1/4 of the EU youngsters were unemployed, but we have to be careful nonetheless. GDP has not been growing in the last few months, but has seen a decrease in all the EU zone (-15% with regards to the same quarter the previous year) and in some of its countries in particular (-22% in Spain, -17% in Italy, -16% in Portugal - data for Greece not available for the second quarter of 2020).
After this annus horribilis, it is forecast that 2021 will see a 6% growth in GDP, but this will happen if individual european economies will be able to implement measures that will allow businesses to flowrish again. Certainly, countries have already set up measures that have helped their industrial sectors and workers in general to survive the lock-down months (such as Italy, suspending tax payments and providing benefits to those businesses that had seen substantial losses because of the covid-19 crisis) and we are seeing some promising figures even now. Maybe, just maybe, we are starting to perceive the light at the end of this huge, long, infinite tunnel.
To my fellow job seekers out there: we don't have to give up! For one that hasn't got the job today, another one has found it. Next time, or the one after next, it could be our chance to finally open an email that reads 'dear candidate, we are glad to inform you the position you have applied for is yours'.