Are students, grads choosing gig work instead of internships and entry-level jobs?

Posted August 12, 2020 by

We are definitely seeing a significant increased percentage of students and recent graduates on searching and applying to gig economy jobs, but it isn’t clear yet whether that’s simply a function of more of those jobs still being available than more traditional, W-2 jobs. If I had to put money on it, I would say the increased interest is very temporary and due to necessity. If it is a choice of working gig versus being in poverty, they’re wisely choosing gig. 

We’re not hearing from any employers or career services that students are gravitating toward gig jobs. None. When there are shifts somewhat like this, we typically hear that from one or both of those groups. The silence contributes to my belief that this isn’t really a trend at all but just a passing moment born out of necessity.

What we are hearing that might surprise some is that very, very few employers have changed their plans with respect to numbers of hires, compensation for those hires, timing of those hires, etc. In 2008-09, many of the largest employers paused or even canceled their internship and recent grad hiring efforts and it took years for them to rebuild. They’re being a lot smarter this time and realizing that COVID is massively disruptive yet likely also temporary and so they’re wisely choosing not to make strategic (long-term) changes due to tactical (short-term) problems. 

Another major change is the rapid acceleration to employers becoming more or even completely school and even major agnostic. Forever, we’ve all believed that candidates from certain schools and majors naturally outperform those from lesser schools or majors which aren’t well-aligned with the job the person is being hired into. Well, turns out that employers can train someone to read a balance sheet and so it isn’t all that important to hire someone with an accounting degree. What they can’t train someone to do is think critically, and so employers are placing far greater weight on that trait than whether you went to the “right” school or even graduated with certain majors. Now, if you’re hiring a nurse then clearly the candidate needs a nursing degree as that’s a job requirement. But if you’re hiring an accountant, a liberal arts grad who is good with and enjoys math is probably going to be a very, very productive employee for you. 

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Posted in Advice for Employers and Recruiters | Tagged