The First Job Observatory

Almost half of young workers quit their job less than a year after joining a company

For some young people, finding the right path that will ultimately lead them to the “perfect first job” is not as easy as it seems: registering on Parcoursup to make higher education choices while they are still in high school, deciding on specialisations and masters, looking for jobs in different industries…  And, all this, with little information on the reality of the different professions and sectors. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the first months at a company can turn out to be an utter disappointment for a lot of young workers.

According to the second edition of the “First Job Observatory” led by Ipsos for My Job Glasses, nearly one in two young workers leaves his first job less than a year after being hired!

This study, which aims to better understand the perception of young French people from 18 to 30 on their first professional experience, reveals that they feel ill-prepared to enter the working-life. Ultimately, nearly one in two young workers (46%) quit their first job within a year of being hired.  The reason ? A lack of knowledge about the reality of the professional world and a lack of contact with professionals during their studies.

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Second edition of the “First Job Observatory”:
Key figures and lessons

  • 46% of young workers have left their first job within a year of being hired.
  • For the majority of them, this resignation is intentional  (63%), often motivated by a more interesting position (27%), or simply because the job did not meet their expectations (19%).
  • Among working people, the choice of their first job is usually the result of chance or necessity (60%), rather than passion (25%).
  • Only 1 in 5 young people have been able to convert their experience in a company into their first job, even among those with a master’s degree and more.
  • 66% of young people believe their school did not properly teach them how to look for a first job or help them better understand the reality of working life.
  • Only 55% of young people say their school has organised meetings with professionals, and among them, half were considered useless anyway.
  • Young workers who had the opportunity to meet with professionals on different occasions feel like their actual job and company correspond to their initial expectations (+30 points and +21 points compared to those who have never met any professionals).
  • Networking is seen as the future’s most effective recruiting tool by more than one in two young workers (51%), before the response to an ad (22%) and the recruitment forum (16%).

The gap between expectations and reality: the main source of disappointment

As early as 2017, through the first edition of its “First Job Observatory”, My Job Glasses noted that almost one in two young graduates had left their job within the first year. If we take a closer look at the figures, this observation is both ruthless and constant : 46% of young graduates left their jobs in the first year vs. 25% within six months after taking the position.

For most of them, the resignation was voluntary (63%), either justified by a more interesting opportunity (27%) or simply because the position did not meet their expectations (19%). These figures show the importance of knowing more about the different professions and the business world.

Right before taking the great leap into the working life, many young people admit they are clueless on how the business world truly works: 41% had a vague idea of the profession they wanted to work in while one in two young individuals did not know what type of company they wanted to join.

Thus, the choice of the first job is often the result of chance or necessity (60%) rather than a choice motivated by passion: only one in four respondents say that they have chosen their first job out of passion.

“After a communications internship that did not meet my expectations, I did not know which path to follow. Through my school, I had the chance to meet professionals and decided to use this opportunity to explore the finance industry. I ended up getting the position of internal auditor at the JCDecaux group, which I joined 3 weeks ago after meeting a Mentor on My Job Glasses.“ Pauline Chevalerias, M1 student at BBA INSEEC

Young people are poorly prepared to enter the working life

A bad job description is the main reason why candidates end up leaving their job so quickly: almost a third of first-time hires (30%) regret having applied for an offer whose description did not reflect the reality of the job. To avoid any disappointment, the majority of these individuals (56%) believe that a meeting with peers and/or current employees would provide more reliable information. These results prove the need to connect students and professionals as early as possible so that they can help young people better understand their professions, paths and experiences.

“Allowing marines to speak about the reality of their profession is essential to meet our recruitment challenges. The dialogue between our mentors and the young people who wish to join the Navy is a priority for us. Also, it guarantees that the candidates are here out of conviction and not by default.” declares Admiral Dupuis, Director of the Military Personnel in the French Navy which counts 200 mentors on My Job Glasses.

Generally speaking, the preparation to enter the job market raises several questions: 2/3 of young people consider they have been poorly prepared by their school when it comes to job-hunting or explaining the reality of the working life (66%). Note: this last figure rises to 74% for young people with a master’s degree or more.

Most of them also feel ill-prepared for discussions and interviews with professionals (59%) and deplore the lack of meetings with employees within the framework of higher education (40%). They also underline that the few meetings that are organised with current staff members are often not optimal, especially those taking place during job forums. They are perceived as useless by one in two young people (50%).

“In this context of high structural unemployment, increasing support for young graduates who will soon be entering the workforce is a key issue, especially when they express a real need for preparation. They need both the support of professionals as well as from their schools in order to make a career choice that will meet their personal expectations.” comments Brice Teinturier, CEO Delegate of Ipsos France.

In addition, only 1 in 5 young people convert their experience in a company (internship, apprenticeship contract, interim or VIE: 20%) into their first job, including BAC +5 and above (21%).

Straightforward recruitment methods, such as co-optation or networking, also remain rare (17%), even though they offer a better integration for newcomers. Getting a first job mainly is often due to more traditional approaches, such as spontaneous applications (33%) or replies to specific job offers (26%).

The need to open the doors of the business world to the next generation

In this context, young workers express a real desire to learn more about the professional world so that they can deconstruct clichés or confirm their choice. Instructive immersions in companies are very popular among young workers because they allow them to better understand the positions for which they are most likely to apply in the future: 53% of trainees realise this from the start (50% of VIEs and 45% of the trainees). Whether they are positive or negative, these experiences they are considered to be “enlightening” for 93% of the candidates who have gone through a VIE, apprenticeship (91%) or internship (82%).

“By encouraging meetings between professionals and students while they are still in school, we are breaking away from the current pattern, which is a source of disappointment for young workers. We also allow them to easily identify the industries and/or sectors of activity which may or may not correspond to their profiles. It is our conviction at My Job Glasses: young people’s first job expectations will be fulfilled only if these individuals have an overview of the professional world before they start applying. ” reveals Emilie Korchia, Cofounder of My Job Glasses.

Regular meetings with professionals are therefore an effective — if not the best — asset for better understanding the business world and unravelling certain clichés. And they are very useful indeed: young workers who have had the opportunity to meet with professionals on several occasions feel like their current job (78%) and company (73%) do match with their initial expectations. Ditto for the working environment or working methods with which young workers also feel more in tune (79% vs. 60%), as well as management methods (68% vs. 49%).

“Even though we are well-known for our marketing expertise, we were committed to enhancing the richness and diversity of our professions within other departments such as digital, commerce, operations, research and more. This is why we are proud to have joined My Job Glasses with many Mentors from all professions, in France and abroad, who can share their passion with students. And it is working! So far, we are the most popular company on the platform with nearly 2,000 meeting requests received to date, ” said Jean-Claude Le Grand, General Manager of Human Relations at L’Oréal group.

The importance of building a professional network

Young workers also want better support to build their own professional network, regardless of their level of education. Even more so as for many (43%) networking is a source of stress (this figure even rises to 48% for students that hold a master’s degree and above, and to 47% for women vs. 40% for men). It is difficult for them to know how to proceed, or even how to identify the right person to talk about their professional project. However, for 80% of the respondents, the network is seen as a real opportunity.

Some young workers are also held back by several factors such as: not knowing who to contact (26%), the fear of not knowing what to say (21%), the lack of contact within the industry they would like to join (14%), and finally the impression of lacking legitimacy to speak to a professional (13%).

Nevertheless, networking is perceived as tomorrow’s best recruitment method by more than one in two young workers (51%), way better than traditional recruitment methods such as responding to a job ad (22%) or recruitment forums (16%).

“The results of this observatory show a real need to strengthen the dialogue between students and companies. This is the main purpose of our mentoring tool: to offer a solution that connects these two worlds, to rethink recruitment and guidance well beyond simple job boards or forums. Meetings with professionals who are best suited to give a sneak peak into their daily lives and share the passion for their jobs, is the key to reveal real vocations among all young individuals.” concludes Emilie Korchia.

*Methodology: Online study conducted from October 31 to November 12, 2019 with a representative panel of 1000 young French people (aged 18 to 30), according to the quota method: – Eligibility criteria: age and status (professionals with at least one first professional experience, and students at the end of their cycle who have not yet had a job) – Quotas: status, age, sex, region of residence, level of qualification (excluding CAP and BEP).

** Source: First edition of the Observatory in 2017: Opinion Way study for My Job Glasses.

Any publication, in whole or in part, must use the full mention: “Observatoire du Premier Emploi – Ipsos study for My Job Glasses – January 2020” and no quote extracted from the survey shall be dissociated from this mention.

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