Viral TikTok Shows Why It Is Hard for Gen Z to Get a Job

By: Alyssa Miller | Published: Feb 10, 2024

A Gen Zer is starting a conversation on TikTok about the recent labor challenges in the U.S. after she filmed herself trying to find a job. 26-year-old New Yorker Lohanny Santos took to the social media platform to express her frustration as she went door-to-door with a stack of resumes looking for a job.

Santos felt embarrassed to be rejected in person asking after countless potential employers, “Are you guys hiring?”

Gen Zer Says She Can’t Find Work

“It’s honestly a little bit embarrassing because I’m literally applying for, like, minimum-wage jobs,” Santos says in her video. “And some of them are being like, ‘We’re not hiring,’ and it’s like, ‘What?’ This is not what I expected.”

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A woman with long dark hair crying into a camera

Source: Lohanny Santos/TikTok

The Pace University alum boasted about being able to speak three languages and has two degrees (one in communication and a BFA in acting).

Santos Giving Up on Her TikToker Dream

Santos said that the humbling experience is a result of her “not being delusional anymore” about wanting to make a profit from content creation on TikTok.

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A woman with long dark hair in a leather jacket holding piece of paper

Source: Lohanny Santos/TikTok

“This sucks, like, I just want to be a TikToker if I’m being so for real but I can’t be delusional anymore, I literally need to make money,” Santos says while wiping a tear from her eye. “I’m just going to keep trying.”

A Word of Encouragement to Young Workers

Since uploading the TikTok, the view has gained over 23.1 million views and thousands of moments giving Santos support and job recommendations.

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“Never feel embarrassed. You should feel proud that you’re pushing your pride to the side and being realistic,” a supporter wrote. But not everyone in the comments shares the same encouraging messages of perseverance.

This Isn’t Santos's First Time Talking About the Job Market

Santos took to TikTok with a series of videos chronicling the challenges she’s encountered since losing her previous job. Many have criticized Santos for her choice in education: communications and acting.

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A woman with long black hair while wearing a blue dress and posing in a car

Source: Lohanny Santos/Instagram

“Maybe if you didn’t major in communications and acting, you wouldn’t be in this situation,” one user wrote.

Is Everyone Struggling in the Work-Force? 

Santos responded to the comment, saying that the job market is hard. Some so many people reached out to me to share how they have PhDs and higher education than I have, and so many of them are in the same position I’m in,” Santos says in her TikTok.

A woman with long dark hair taking a mirror selfie

Source: Lohanny Santos/Instagram

With so many people saying that the job market is tough and jobs commenting that they are having a hard time finding workers, what is going on out there?

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The Great Reshuffle

More than 50 million workers reshuffled their careers in 2022, quitting their jobs in a phenomenon dubbed “The Great Reshuffle” after the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their priorities and desires. In 2023, this trend gradually subsided, with 30.5 million workers resigning at the end of August 2023.

People walking in New York City

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Despite the high number of people quitting their jobs, the latest data from the U.S. Chambers of Commerce shows that there are 9.5 million job openings in the U.S., but only 6.5 million unemployed workers.

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More Americans Are Sitting Out of the Workforce

America’s labor force has been seeing a decline in participation for decades. Several factors have come together to influence the number of workers who are sitting out.

A girl with long dark hair wiping a tear away from her face while holding pieces of paper

Source: Lohanny Santos/TikTok

Most Americans who lost their full-time jobs during the pandemic say they are searching for a new job that offers remote work or hybrid work. Another quarter of Americans surveyed say government aid packages during the pandemic have incentivized them to not actively look for work that would help them less.

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Young Workers Want a Specific Job

Younger workers—mostly Gen Z and younger Millennials—are prioritizing personal growth over searching for a full-time office job. This age group is focused on developing new skills, pursuing education, or training before re-entering the job market.

Two laptops back to back on a large wooden office table

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The job that most Gen Zers want promises a healthy work-life balance, yet that market has been shaken up and determined unstable in the last year.

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Young Workers Are Looking Toward Non-Traditional Jobs

Samsung and Morning Consult’s study discovered that the younger generation in the workforce wants to work in media and entertainment.

A woman with long dark hair wearing a blue sweater talking into a smartphone in front of a brick wall

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“Lifestyle is a big part of the attraction,” says Ann Woo, the head of corporate citizenship at Samsung Electronics America. “Media and entertainment is a creative industry that offers flexibility and self-expression, two of the most important attributes younger workers want in a job.”

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The Entertainment Businesses Is Going Through a Transition

But 2023 was not a good year for those in media and entertainment. Both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA went on strike for several months, leading to the film industry seeing a decline in ad revenue and unprofitable streaming businesses.

A large sign that reads "Hollywood" on the lush green hillside

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The entertainment industry lost over 44,000 jobs in May 2023. Despite this, Woo points out that Gen Z is a social generation that places a high value on community and societal impact over job security.

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The Future of Job Hunting

Like Santos, most Gen Zers were to become influencers if given the chance (via Morning Consult). “Extremely online” Gen Zers, Woo notes, quickly realized that “as soon as you start producing content that attracts a following, you can get paid and become a business.”

Colleagues Taking a Picture in an Office

Source: Kampus Production/Pexels

But the career isn’t viable nor does it process a steady stream of income, leading many, including Santos, to feel like there are no jobs out there that can fulfill them.

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