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Recruitment expert explains why Gen Z people struggle with getting a job

But young jobseekers say they can't survive on entry-level salaries in a cost-of-living-crisis.

Gen Zs struggling to find a job after finishing university are being told to lower their expectations, however, young Aussies say that’s nearly impossible in a cost-of-living crisis.

A recruitment expert said many graduates were applying for roles that were far more senior than their experience and that jobseekers weren’t prepared to climb the ranks.

Zetter Recruitment’s director of recruitment, Ursula Colman, explained how Gen Zs either had unrealistic expectations about their pay or the time needed in the office.

Job recruitment expert Ursula Colman next to two university graduates
Recruitment expert Ursula Colman says young people are too entitled about their pay and working conditions when trying to land a job. (Source: LinkedIn/Getty)

Have you struggled getting a job after university? Email stew.perrie@yahooinc.com

“[There's an attitude] that you should get the life that you want and get paid for it,” Colman told the MailOnline. It's made internships seem unfashionable.

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“The amount that people are willing to work for has definitely changed. We will often have entry-level roles and Gen Zs are like: ‘No, that's not paying enough, I'm looking for more’.

“We are seeing more and more Gen Zs wanting to work from home and, historically, those first roles in your career are grafting roles where you're having to commute and work long hours.”

Colman said that, while getting a university degree was good, it was now considered the bare minimum. She said experience was now highly sought after because that separated you from other candidates. However, she added that many Gen Zs wanted to travel and this resulted in huge holes in their CVs, making them unattractive to prospective employers.

Graduates say entry-level jobs aren’t paying enough

However, recent graduates have revealed they can’t afford to live on graduate wages when inflation has made it difficult to get by.

Kaitlyn Hill has been working as a casual at Coles while she looks for "anything full-time" in Adelaide. She said that despite having a double degree, the salaries on offer weren’t enough to live on.

"I'm looking at the wages and it's literally $60,000. $60k to live? Sorry?" she explained to Yahoo Finance. "Am I being unrealistic by expecting at least $75,000 as an entry level?"

Maddy Basham received an offer for a marketing coordinator role that paid $50,000 and required two years’ experience and a university degree.

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The young Australian worker said that was well short of the money she made when working as a retail manager and wouldn’t be enough to allow her to afford rent, bills and groceries.

Not only that, if she took the job, her HECS debt would continue to be indexed because she would be earning less than the $51,550 threshold.

“[I’m] sick and tired of seeing the same job ads over and over again asking for an educated, experienced marketer and paying them f**king nothing,” the Brisbane jobseeker said.

"At this point, I am this close to going back to retail just to make a liveable wage."

The median Australian wage is $54,890, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data. That’s calculated by looking at the middle value of all incomes - not the average, which can be skewed by higher earners. The average salary in Australia, as of November 2023, was $98,217.60 yearly before tax and HECS deductions.

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Employers are ‘pickier’ with recruitment

Shakira Coldwell lives on the Gold Coast and said she’d applied for more than 100 jobs and still hadn’t been able to find full-time work.

She fears she wasted her time at university if she can’t get a job in the industry she studied several years for.

Superior People Recruitment founder and director Graham Wynn told Yahoo Finance the job market was brutal at the moment.

“I’ve run this business for 15 years and I’ve never known as [much of a] challenging time to find candidates for jobs. We’ve got far more jobs than jobseekers,” Wynn said.

“The problem is because it is so hard to find people, employers are being much pickier than they used to be, knowing they can’t afford to get this wrong because, if they invest time and money and it doesn’t work out, it’s too hard to find another person.”

He said if people had experience under their belt, they could “hit the ground running” rather than spending months being trained.

Tips on scoring a job

A British tourist revealed the tips he had used to get a job in Australia. Jude Rusga said it was a combination of confidence, initiative and stretching the truth just a little bit.

“You're going to need a bit of personality, you need a bit of energy about you,” he said in a TikTok video.

“You can't be rocking up to an interview [with your] head down, closed body language … just be open, be smiley, be happy and act like you really care about the job, regardless of what it is.”

He added: “Find the company, find the email and find the manager's email, write them a massive paragraph - six, seven, eight, however many you need to do - to get your point across.

“I need you to mention a few things. Number one is how much you care about this job and how much you want this job and cannot let this opportunity go. Number two is that you just beg that they give you one interview and that's all you need.”

His third suggestion was to lie about small bits of experience to make your application stand out.