jobs

People Tell Us What Job Hunting in the Time of Coronavirus Looks Like

"The main issue is, applying for roles that companies are no longer looking to fill but haven’t taken down yet. So you’re waiting and getting hopeful for nothing."
21 April 2020, 9:50am
Job Hunting struggles coronavirus

This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.

Times are hard for millennials. Older ones graduated during the 2008 global financial crisis, and now the youngest of them are stepping into the job market amidst one of the biggest global health crises, which is almost certainly sending the world into a recession even worse than the Great Depression. Older zoomers are on the same boat.

It’s a strange time to be navigating social life, and an even stranger time to be job hunting. Yet, the reality is that the coronavirus has displaced people from their occupations, forcing them to go on a search for a new job, and changed the game for those who were already job hunting before the outbreak.

VICE spoke to some people who are job hunting in the time of coronavirus. They shared how the pandemic changed their career choices and affected their livelihoods, and how they’re dealing with it all.

Michelle, 30, Malaysia

I live in Langkawi and work in the tourism industry for a company that charters yachts. The tourism and hospitality industry has been severely affected due to the travelling restrictions implemented by governments all around the world. I live and work on an island that thrives on tourists so there goes my rice bowl.

Companies are not hiring at the moment and to add salt to my wound, I’ve been on unpaid leave for a month now and starting next month, my current company will reduce my pay by 30 percent due to the absence of income. I’m basically living on hope and perseverance right now. I’m lucky that I’ve got food on the table and a roof over my head. Sure, times are really unsettling, mentally for the most part, but a girl’s gotta do what she’s gotta do to live another day.

Ashish, 19, India

I’m working from home for a call centre as a customer service professional but was also looking for another job, something similar but in a bigger firm. My search stopped because of this lockdown. I’m still doing my current job for the time being and will continue the job hunt after this lockdown.

Dimas, Indonesia

I was looking for a new job in Yogyakarta. I had two interview sessions with recruiters through video call. I was so optimistic that I would get the job — the local recruiter was impressed and the interview with the global recruiter went smoothly. However, I didn’t get the job. The local recruiter said that it was a great loss for the company for not accepting me. She also said that the global recruiter had their own concerns during this pandemic. Being jobless is hard. I need to compete with other candidates to land a job. The pandemic makes it harder than ever.

Aaron Kenny, 19, Australia

The main issue is, applying for roles that companies are no longer looking to fill but haven’t taken down yet. So you’re waiting and getting hopeful for nothing. Secondly, I’ve gotten through the online interview stage a few times, only to be told that I’ll move on to an in-person interview. At least three of my prospects led to nothing because almost everyone is working from home; the live interview stage is just non-existent. Now, I’m left in the dark as to whether I’m still in the running or if they’re still even searching.

Estelle, 25, Australia

I was recently stood down from a job and managed to find a contract role at another big company pretty quickly. I think there’s a lot of temp roles available in crisis management. If you can hit the ground running and can upskill quickly, I think this period could lead to exciting things. The challenge is going to be onboarding virtually and getting to know my new team, all over Zoom.

Romy McCann, 26, Australia

I’m a young buyer and set dresser in the film and TV industry in Melbourne. I’ve recently lost my job on an Australian series due to coronavirus. It sucks. At this point in time, I have applied for JobSeeker Payment (government financial aid for those looking for work). Unfortunately, I, like many others in my industry, are not eligible at the moment for JobKeeper Payment (a wage subsidy for employers to keep employees at work). It’s an absolute joke. We have fallen through the cracks.

I haven’t been able to apply for other jobs as it’s difficult because I do have a job to go back to when all this calms down.

I’ve been working with the Australian film union to try to fight for our rights and fight for what is right, that we should be eligible for JobKeeper.

I find it very ironic that in these times, when everyone is told to stay home and self-isolate, a lot of people are finding solace in television and film whilst all the people who make the content are without work, without pay.

Harriet, 17, Australia

I lost my job a few weeks ago due to the coronavirus and my job search hasn’t been going well. I’m looking for part-time or casual jobs and there are probably two or so jobs that I’ve seen advertised, but so have all the other thousands of people also looking for a casual job in Melbourne. So I’m not holding out too much hope. And on top of that, the new JobSeekers Allowance is only for people over 22. Because, apparently, 19-year-olds who live by themselves and need to support themselves financially are immune to losing their job.

Tina, 22, Singapore

Since December, I’ve applied to more than 30 full-time jobs. I went for three or four interviews but got mostly negative outcomes. Since the coronavirus outbreak and the “circuit breaker,” (aka Singapore’s lockdown measures), the number of job postings have decreased. I can’t apply for many of the jobs and some require more technical skills which my degree didn’t prepare me for.

I applied to graduate school out of interest last year, but was always leaning more towards finding a job after graduation. But since I couldn’t find a satisfying job due to the coronavirus, I decided to take up an offer for graduate school. After weighing the pros (more learning) and cons (cost of education), I decided to pursue further studies. Financially speaking, it’s not like I will be making a lot of money at a full-time job — if I can find one — in the two years that I’ll be in graduate school.

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.