Starting Out: New Grads and Young Professionals

Tough Odds for the Class of COVID-19

Recent graduates are starting their careers at a time of tremendous uncertainty, but hiring is up in several job categories.

Though most recent graduates aren’t technically millennials, both Gen Zers and millennials who are new to the job market face unprecedented challenges in 2020. Hiring has picked up as the  economy reopens, but even so, the class of 2020 is entering one of the most depressed job markets in decades.

I was hired as a staff writer at Kiplinger in March, just weeks after I graduated from Middlebury College (full confession: I am a member of Gen Z, not the millennial cohort). As an employed recent graduate, I feel very fortunate. But I can’t say the same for many of my friends. Much of the tried-and-true advice for job seekers no longer applies. You can’t, for example, stack your calendar with networking coffee chats and obey social distancing guidelines at the same time.

Hone your strategy. Though unemployment is high across the board, people age 18 to 34 have been disproportionately affected, according to a recent Axios-Harris study. One-third of people who are 18 to 34 have been laid off or placed on temporary leave, compared with 22% of those who are 35 to 49, and 15% of those who are 50 to 64, according to the study. But even in this environment, many companies still need employees, and firms are eager to hire recent college graduates. Even if you’re unable (or unwilling) to travel, keep an eye out for virtual networking events and remote job postings. “We have definitely seen an increase in remote postings as well as remote events,” says Christine Cruzvergara, vice president of higher education at Handshake, an online platform that connects recent graduates with employers.

Steer clear of cluttered job-posting sites that will send you down a rabbit hole to out-of-date or filled jobs. And you don’t have to pay an expensive service to get access to the jobs that are suited to your skills. Websites such as LinkedIn and Handshake allow you to filter your searches by location, industry and job type so you can connect with employers who are hiring. To access Handshake, you’ll need to sign in with your academic credentials and have an .edu e-mail address.

Hiring is up in several employment categories, including delivery services, call centers, e-commerce warehouses and online tutors. Among major companies, Amazon fulfillment centers, Facebook product and engineering teams, and Nestlé factory/distribution and corporate sites are hiring. You can find a comprehensive list of companies hiring recent grads on Handshake’s 500 List, a compilation of the top 500 hiring employers.

If you’re living at home while you search for a job, get your finances in order, says Lori Atwood, a certified financial planner based in Washington, D.C. If you have earnings from a temporary or part-time job, use the money you’re saving on rent to build up your cash reserves. That way, you’ll have an emergency fund when you move out.

You may need to be flexible about location, too. The job market is shifting, and the best places to find a job might surprise you. Some of the best cities for job seekers right now are Madison, Wis., Charlottesville, Va., and Fargo, N.D., according to a study by Zippia.com, a career expert website. These cities have low unemployment, which means less competition, and a high number of jobs in essential industries, such as health care, telecommunications, information technology systems, and public works.

Most Popular

Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
25 Best Kirkland Products You Should Buy at Costco
Smart Buying

25 Best Kirkland Products You Should Buy at Costco

Many of warehouse club Costco's store-branded Kirkland Signature items get high marks for quality and value. Check out our picks.
July 21, 2021
Warning: You May Have to Pay Back Your Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments
Tax Breaks

Warning: You May Have to Pay Back Your Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments

Unlike stimulus checks, you might have to repay your monthly child tax credit payments if you get too much money from the IRS.
July 16, 2021

Recommended

School’s Out for Summer … But Tuition Is Back in the Fall
Paying for College

School’s Out for Summer … But Tuition Is Back in the Fall

Giving the gift of education never goes out of style. Here are some different options for helping out the young person in your life.
July 31, 2021
When It’s Time to Drop Your Parents’ Health Insurance.
Starting Out: New Grads and Young Professionals

When It’s Time to Drop Your Parents’ Health Insurance.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate for twenty-somethings has plummeted.
July 29, 2021
Plan to Start Repaying Student Loans
Paying for College

Plan to Start Repaying Student Loans

The pandemic-era pause on student loan repayments is scheduled to end September 30. If you can’t afford payments, you have options.
July 29, 2021
Tying the Knot Post-Pandemic
Business Costs & Regulation

Tying the Knot Post-Pandemic

This wedding planner is gearing up for a full fall season amid continuing concerns about safety.
July 28, 2021