Sarah Owen, Director of Walters People Ireland.

Only 16% of graduates looking for their first job since March have been successful, with the new cohort of graduates from the summer set to hit ‘job hunt fatigue’ by Christmas – claims staffing business Walters People Ireland, who surveyed 1,500 Irish graduates.

Three quarters of young graduates (70%) directly blame Covid-19 for their delayed or lack of entry into the workforce, yet only 6% have taken this opportunity to upskill in other areas outside of their degree choice.

With almost a quarter of young professionals (21%) stating that they anticipate a pay decrease this year, market confidence amongst the young (18-24 yrs) has dropped by almost 20%. In 2019, 85% of graduates felt optimistic about their future, compared to 67% of graduates in 2020.

In addition, the average length of time to find your first job is longer in 2020. In 2019, more than 1 in 3 Irish students found their first job before the end of their course or training. In 2020, this has already dropped to 1 in 4 students – with the statistics looking to be more strained by the end of the year.

Director of Walters People Ireland, Sarah Owen, comments: “In times of crisis or uncertainty, companies tend to hire experience over potential – which is why the junior-end of the jobs market has been so badly hit. 

“However what large firms will miss out on if they do continue to pause graduate-hiring schemes is a generation of fresh ideas, digital know-how, and innovation – hindering Ireland’s competitive advantage in what is an increasingly global market

“Typically start-ups and fast-growing SME’s have been quick to hire talented junior professionals who illustrate potential to grow with the business – however with some of the smaller companies hit the hardest, and training & development budgets temporarily frozen; there are less opportunities for those looking to get their first step on the ladder.”            


According to Walters People Ireland, businesses have pivoted their recruitment approach during lockdown which led to a 67% increase in video job interviews and a 40% increase in use of online testing platform. As a result, the number of job offers made remotely during lockdown tripled compared to the general average pre-lockdown.

Sarah adds: “Things are not the same, and times have changed very rapidly and so my advice to young job seekers is to approach your job hunt differently to what you would have done pre-Covid.

“Employers have changed their recruitment process overnight to be completely remote, digitally-focussed, and supplemented by data & AI.

“Rather than email or submitting a CV, revamp your approach by creating a quick video detailing your experience whilst illustrating your personality. Start to understand the key words and skills in your preferred job specs and align your LinkedIn and online profiles to reflect this.

“In this current market you have to almost ‘convince’ a business as to why they need you – be bold in your approach, share ideas, show your passion for the industry, and get across why you believe change can lead to opportunity – as this is the type of mindset that a business is seeking from any new starter, be it junior or someone much more experienced.”