Tens of millions of Americans have seen their jobs, career prospects and financial stability vanish in the months the coronavirus pandemic has cut through the U.S economy and labor force. More than 19 million people, or roughly 13% of the workforce, are currently unemployed.
Recent college graduates and entry-level workers, who eyed an unprecedented strong labor market as recently as February, are in an especially vulnerable position as they try to enter a decimated job market for their first full-time roles. But as states reopen and companies gain steadier footing in the new realities of the pandemic, some hiring may be on the upswing.
According to the job site Glassdoor, postings in May 2020 calling for entry-level job seekers were down 68% compared to the year prior. By June, entry-level job postings are down by 39% compared to the year prior.
"Things are slowly getting better, but we still have a long way to go," Amanda Stansell, senior economic researcher for Glassdoor, tells CNBC Make It.
Of the openings that remain, recent grads are drawn to technology roles. Glassdoor users age 26 or younger who hold a bachelor's degree are most commonly applying to roles such as software engineer, data analyst, data scientist and software developer. Business, finance and marketing roles are also among the top 10 most sought-after jobs among young applicants.
Median annual base salaries according to Glassdoor data.
Job seekers of all ages may aspire to jobs in science, technology, engineering and math thanks to the work of innovative tech companies, including Google, Apple and Facebook, whose products and services have transformed the way people live. These STEM jobs also tend to pay lucratively, due in part to what's known as a tech-talent shortage where there are more technology jobs being created than there are people with the right skills to fill them.
As for where new grads most want to work, many still want to start their careers at global brands such as Amazon, Microsoft and Goldman Sachs. Social media newcomer TikTok, popular among younger audiences, has also seen a surge in applicants for open roles.
"The most interesting takeaway from report is that TikTok is already among some of most popular companies new grads are applying to right now," Stansell says. "It will be really interesting to see, as TikTok continues to grow, how their culture grows and unfolds in comparison to its competitors."
A TikTok recruiter tells CNBC Make It that while the pandemic has impacted the company's pace of interviewing, they are still actively hiring for a number of roles worldwide. According to their careers page, the company has around 300 open roles across offices in Los Angeles; New York City; and Mountain View, California.
In addition to running a tech internship program in Mountain View for the summer, the company plans to ramp up campus hiring in the U.S., especially for engineering organizations, the recruiter adds.
"We have a good portion of team members in the engineering organization that are entry-level," the recruiter says. "It's important for us to create a work environment where new grads and entry-level hires will be supported and guided in their career development by more experienced managers and leads."
For new grads applying to any company, though, expect delays during the hiring process, as many companies aren't conducting onsite interviews.
Indeed, a March iCIMS survey of 500 hiring managers found that it takes an average of 48 days to fill an entry-level position; that timeline is likely stretched even longer now due to the constraints of the pandemic. Another 500 college seniors, on the other hand, expect the hiring process to take an average of 35 days, with the majority (79%) believing they should hear from a recruiter within 7 days of applying.
Where possible, applicants should ask the hiring manager when they can expect to hear about next steps in the interviewing process, but be patient and flexible given the circumstances.