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Is Upskilling the Best Way to Deal With Job Rejections?

Gen Z

Learning to handle rejection while job hunting is not uncommon and a vital skill that professionals are expected to develop. But hey, who wants rejection? In fact, when candidates are rejected, it is no longer the resume that gets rejected; rather it’s a loss of identity and sense of self. And that’s what a new LinkedIn report wants to convey on World Youth Skills Day 2021, with a set of recommendations on how to deal with such rejection and how upskilling can lead to positive outcome.

The research  conducted by GfK captures the current sentiment, changing perceptions, and future outlook towards jobs, skilling, and networking opportunities. At a time when India is still reeling under the second wave of Covid-19, the study reveals that 90% of Gen Z job applicants got demotivated after job offer rejections.

Rejection leads to de-motivation

The study shows that nearly 70% of Gen Z job applicants didn’t get a positive response after waiting for long periods, while a similar proportion said their applications were either cancelled or delayed indefinitely. Due to these setbacks, 90% of Gen Z job applicants are demotivated.

When asked what they felt was the biggest barrier to get ahead in the pandemic, Gen Z Indians cited ‘fewer opportunities’, followed by ‘slower recruitment’ and ‘higher competition’ as the top 3 reasons affecting their job search today. Other barriers in pursuing job opportunities include lack of guidance for skilling and increased familial responsibilities due to the pandemic.

Echoing this travesty, 72% of students stated that internship opportunities had also greatly reduced during the pandemic’s second wave. Among those who are currently employed, 32% of Gen Z Indians experienced a pay cut while 25% lost a job opening because the company cancelled the job role due to the pandemic.

Solace in online learning

The second wave has disrupted the education plans of nearly 75% students and Gen Z Indians. In fact, 40% of those with higher academic aspirations have postponed or cancelled their plans due to safety concerns, financial constraints, and travel restrictions. Such is the disruption that every fifth (20%) Gen Z Indian is now pivoting to a different learning program than originally planned, the study said.

A majority of Gen Z Indians are redefining their academic plans to cope with the changes at such a career-defining juncture. Consumer sentiment from the report shows that 85% of Gen Z Indians are willing to take up online learning, despite ‘too many distractions at home’, ‘connectivity issues’, and ‘limited interaction with peers’. When asked how they choose their online courses, more than half of Gen Z Indians said they look for quality of faculty (58%), affordability (56%), and accessible content (52%).

Given today’s dynamic job market, India’s young professionals are sharpening their focus on developing the right skills to stand out in their job search. The report shows that 46% of Gen Z Indians are looking for mentors who can guide them towards the right skilling pathways.

Time for skill-based hiring

As upskilling and collaboration have become workforce essentials in today’s challenging professional landscape, every second Gen Z professional (51%) wants employers and leaders to make skill-based hires today.

In fact, Gen Z Indians are sharpening their focus on upgrading their skills to improve their self-confidence (47%), widen career opportunities (45%), and fast-track growth (34%) and productivity (32%).

While tech skills remain a strong priority in today’s rapidly digitizing economy, India’s youth is also recognizing the growing importance of human skills today. Interestingly, the survey finds that among those who are learning soft and hard skills today, 2x more Gen Z Indians are learning the top 5 soft skills (~60%) than the top 5 hard skills (~30%).

The top 5 soft skills pursued by Gen Z Indians include Creative Thinking, Problem Solving, Time Management, Leadership, and Effective Communication; while top 5 hard skills include Data Science, Marketing, Engineering, Financial Management, and AI & Automation.

Take for example, the IT sector, where there are abundant job openings, as per a report, but there is a continuous demand for skilled personnel within the sector. This indicates that hiring is increasingly becoming skill-based. The pandemic has accelerated the demand for specialized skilled talent such as cloud engineers, data scientists, cybersecurity officials, experts in AI/ML, IoT, big data and automation. The industry has seen an almost 30-35% growth in the recruitment of these skills this year.

A huge opportunity exists especially in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) space, as the Indian SaaS ecosystem has the potential to create half a million jobs by 2030, a study by SaaSBOOMi and McKinsey & Company said.

Need for an inclusive work culture

 The pandemic has also caused a great shift in employee needs and priorities, as more than half of Gen Z Indians want organizations to offer flexible schedules (52%), more time off for upskilling (48%), and equal access to physical and emotional healthcare provisions (48%). Beyond job perks, Gen Z Indians are also rooting for an inclusive workplace culture where employers communicate transparently (55%), offer customized career growth plans (48%), and make professional growth an experience, not a process (44%).

 “As one of the youngest nations in the world, India’s future of work will be driven by Gen Z professionals, whose new-age skills can revitalize our economic recovery. But 70% of Gen Z Indians had their job applications rejected due to hiring challenges during the pandemic. Employers must treat this as a distress call to urgently reimagine how they hire and develop talent to prevent young professionals from being left behind,” said Ashutosh Gupta, India Country Manager, LinkedIn, adding that skills are the currency for workforce transformation and the only viable solution to tackle the evolving workforce dilemma.

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