Young workers who entered the U.S. job market in the midst of the pandemic in 2020 faced an uphill battle. Hiring on LinkedIn slowed dramatically and widespread layoffs hit Gen Z more severely than most other groups.
Fast forward two years, and the picture looks much brighter for Gen Z and younger millennials joining the workforce today. Despite recent headwinds, such as inflationary pressures and geopolitical tensions creating economic uncertainty, opportunities for entry-level positions in the U.S. still abound.
Here are some key findings from a recent LinkedIn report that analyzed key trends and industries for those just starting out.
Hiring rates are rebounding
Workers with less than four years of full-time work, i.e., recent graduates and those just starting their careers, are experiencing a steady comeback after the 2020 downturn. LinkedIn data shows that overall hiring rates in 2021 rebounded from pandemic lows, up 25% from 2020. And while Gen Z hiring rates still have room to catch up in the overall recovery, they also rebounded in 2021, up 15% compared to 2020.
Companies are indicating they are ready and willing to hire more young talent, with employers planning to hire nearly 30% more new graduates than in 2021, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
Entry-level opportunities are growing fastest in Sun Belt cities
While large coastal cities like New York City and San Francisco continue to attract large numbers of new workers, some smaller cities top the list of fastest-growing cities for entry-level positions.
LinkedIn data shows that Austin, Chattanooga, Raleigh, and Charlotte are now the fastest-growing markets for entry-level positions in the U.S. There are many advantages to working in these Sun Belt cities. In particular, they are more affordable to live in compared to larger cities, which is especially important given that rent prices are reaching new highs.
Top list of human resources, hospitality, and healthcare industries hiring for entry-level positions.
At the industry level, staffing and hiring, hospitality, healthcare, and biotech are the sectors that saw the largest gains in vacancies for entry-level jobs.
Hospitality, one of the hardest-hit sectors during the 2020 closures, has made a strong comeback as increased travel and tourism have increased the need for these companies to pick up hiring activity to keep pace.
And healthcare continues to prove to be a booming sector for jobs at all levels, with roles such as vaccine specialists (some of which are entry-level), which made up a small fraction of open roles before the pandemic, becoming one of the fastest-growing. jobs on LinkedIn right now.
Jobs are evolving
Many young professionals, and especially recent graduates, often think first and foremost about how to market their existing skills. And while that will always be a necessary tactic to land a position, what’s becoming increasingly important is also being able to communicate a willingness to adapt and learn new skills along the way.
LinkedIn research shows that, on average, skill sets for jobs have changed by about 25% since 2015. In other words, an entry-level data scientist today has to bring some different skills to the position relative to what the same data scientist brought five years ago. What can set young professionals apart in the job search is demonstrating an understanding of the changing nature of the industry and a willingness to keep learning on the job.
Those who do well will be better positioned to weather the storms of turbulent job markets and stand out among crowded applicant pools.
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