Sophie Parsons, from Edinburgh, says she is feeling “demoralised” after applying for 100 jobs and not getting a single interview.
The 22-year-old was made redundant in March after working in Italy, teaching English as a foreign language.
She told the Good Morning Scotland radio programme that about 10% of the prospective employers had replied with a courtesy email.
“They say things like ‘there were better candidates’ or ‘we have had 1,000 people apply for this role’,” Sophie says.
“It just sounds like it will only get worse.”
The latest unemployment figures show a slight increase in the number of people out of work in Scotland, but the figures could be masking a lack of jobs for people without work.
Sophie was originally applying for jobs she really wanted but is now trying for anything she thinks she might have a chance of getting.
“I am still getting rejected,” she says. “Every time I find something I might be interested in I still have a bit of hope but that hope is quickly disintegrating.”
Sophie says her generation are not being treated fairly over coronavirus, both being blamed for spreading it and suffering from its economic effects.
“We are being told not to kill our grandparents, which I think is pretty insensitive, and then we are not being employed,” she says.
“We have got new ideas and we are passionate and we have not been jaded by 50 years of working yet so I think giving us a chance could be a really good thing.”
‘It’s the first time in my life I’ve claimed benefits’
Fiona Stewart logs onto her laptop early each morning to sift through daily job emails.
Throughout her career, the 51-year-old mum from Renfrew has mainly worked in legal and human resource roles. She was laid off from an administration job in June while on furlough.
“I must have applied for 50 or 60 jobs since then, including big supermarkets and schools – anything I feel I’ll be able to do,” she told BBC Scotland’s The Nine programme.
Several years ago, the Scout leader had a previous spell of unemployment but she says things are much tougher now.
“In the past, you would be able to go to agencies and there would be temporary work available but there just aren’t any jobs out there.
“This is the first time I’ve ever claimed benefits in my life but I’ve got to try and remain optimistic.”
‘There are a lot of people going for jobs here’
Between job applications, Richard Cooke spends his time updating neighbours about the weather.
He lives on the isle of Lewis and come rain or shine he updates his popular social media page with the latest forecast.
“I’ve always been obsessed since I was tiny and I’ll talk about it to anyone who will listen, really,” he says.
The former Met Office employee had to give up his job when his father became poorly. Now, he’s finding it tough to get back into employment.
“There is a lot of people going for jobs here and it’s exacerbated by the ongoing Covid situation. It makes it more challenging than it would normally be.”
The 32-year-old has applied for about 20 jobs and says some companies are overwhelmed with applications. “They’re saying they have a backlog of interviews to get through and can’t give as much feedback as they usually would because of sheer demand,” Richard says.
Originally from Lancashire, Richard is hoping for a customer service role – and despite the challenges of finding work, he isn’t keen to return to the mainland.
“The island and its people mean a lot to me and I’m quite happy here,” he says.
‘I’m learning new skills for my CV’
In a warehouse in Glasgow, Brooke uses a pallet jack to lift heavy boxes of baked beans.
The 16-year-old is on an employability course run by charity Move On after struggling at school.
“I wasn’t the best behaved when I was younger,” she says. “A couple of years ago, I wouldn’t see myself in a place like this but I’ve got my head screwed on now.”
Brooke has been unemployed since August and with the programme finishing in a couple of weeks, she’s getting ready to search for work. “I’m doing my forklift training because I think that will be a good thing to have on my CV,” she says.
“It would really mean the world to me to get a full-time job and that’s what I’m working so hard for.”
She says her new skills have made her more confident and determined.
“My dream would be to start at the bottom and work my way to the top,” she says. “When I do start earning money, I’m definitely going to spoil my Nana.”
‘I’ve seen others go down a bad route’
Paul Donnelly can often be seen weaving in and out of shops along the high street in Greenock town centre. The area, in Inverclyde, has the highest levels of deprivation in Scotland.
Armed with his CV, he asks staff if they have any shifts available.
“For jobs in Glasgow, I would apply online but here I prefer to just go in and ask the managers,” he says.
The 27-year-old has been without paid work for seven months and is relying on Jobseekers Allowance and support from his family.
“You get a monthly payment but I don’t agree that’s enough to live on,” he says. “I think it’s putting people in a position where they’re getting into debt. I’ve watched people going down the bad route in life, that’s why I’m so determined to find work.”
The occasional actor fancies a career in the food industry after a taster course at college, but he is finding it tough.
“It seems that every job I go for, I’m not suitable for,” h says. “Hopefully in the future I can get my own house and get on with my life.”
You can watch more on these stories on The Nine on the BBC Scotland channel at 21:00 and after on the BBC iplayer.