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2020 College Graduates Adapt To COVID-19 Job Market

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COVID-19 has impacted our global economy on an exponential scale. As world economic powers, such as the United States, navigate this downturn, upcoming college graduates remain highly motivated.

American colleges and universities are set to graduate over 4 Million students, as stated by educationdata.org, in varying degrees in 2020, and these young professionals are entering the workforce in a time of 13% unemployment, according to the Washington Post.

The shock waves through this sector have been seen in industries that include hospitality and entertainment, however, the overall hiring trends have not made a dramatic shift.

Students Remain Proactive

College students are remaining highly proactive as 73% are actively searching for their future employer and 64% are reaching out to employers to check on the status of job postings for both full-time roles and internships. As students make their job search fully virtual, their resources have become impacted as they have moved away from college campuses. Handshake has reported 57% of students can no longer leverage their campus career center and 35% have reported a slower than normal response time from campus resources.

The impact of COVID-19 on the resources of students has not deterred their focus on future employment. They are turning into virtual learners as they conduct independent research, proactively seek feedback, and leverage networking platforms.

The Impact on Employers

As the United States has seen record numbers of employees lose their jobs due to the impact of COVID-19, many employers are maintaining a wait-and-see approach. Through research conducted by Handshake, 54% of employers are still evaluating their hiring plans while 23% have made no changes to their hiring strategies. This positive outlook from many hiring companies has allowed job seekers to remain motivated as the world fights off this outbreak.

However, specific industries have been hit harder than others for job growth. Hospitality, Food & Beverage, and Arts & Entertainment have been hit the hardest. As these companies navigate their outlook, current job postings have yet to see a dramatic shift to remote work spaces as only 5% of new postings are fully remote.

Recruiters Remain Engaged

As most companies wait to fully determine their hiring strategy following the reopening of the US economy, recruiters remain highly active. Students have seen a 29% increase in engagement from recruiters from January 2020 through March 2020 as all engagement has turned digital. Recruiters are reaching out to wide-ranging disciplines with most companies engaging business students.

Recruiting teams are remaining fully engaged while they set their upcoming strategies. According to research conducted by Handshake, the top 4 priorities for recruiters are as follows:

1. Reset the recruiting strategy

2. Build personal connections with candidates

3. Effectively reach students

4. Train and develop recruiting teams


Businesses and job seekers are navigating uncharted waters as the United States battles the COVID-19 pandemic. As companies are experiencing a record number of job losses, employees on furlough and temporary layoffs, a total shift in hiring strategies has yet to unfold. Over 75% of employers have yet to announce any major changes to their upcoming strategies. In part, upcoming college graduates remain highly proactive as they look to enter the work force while transitioning to digital networking to expand their personal brand. As these uncertainties unfold, recruiters remain with their finger on the pulse of prospective candidates as they have increased their student engagement by nearly 30%.

As the health and safety of our country remains the highest priority, businesses have not taken their optimism away from actively hiring in 2020. While most employers are taking the wait-and-see approach, they continue to instruct their recruiting teams to build relationships with prospective candidates and transition to virtual interviews.


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