Unemployment was still hovering at over 13% in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means, as we await the June jobs report, more than 20 million Americans were vying for jobs in the last month.
When there are so many people looking at so few opportunities, cutting down the extra work of dead-end applications — and spending your time focused on roles you have a good shot at — is critical. That may mean knocking entire sectors off your list to focus on high-growth fields that present a wealth of employment opportunities.
Recently, I spoke to several hiring professionals about the industries individuals should avoid on the job hunt right now. Here's what they had to say:
The entertainment industry — built on bringing people together and often dependent on in-person work — was one of the most frequently mentioned industries to avoid right now.
"The sectors struggling the most are travel, hospitality, and entertainment. They're operating at reduced capacity so there's minimal demand for new employees," Brian DeChesare, Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions, told me.
Adam Sanders, the Director of Successful Release, suggested halting of large gatherings — shows, parties, festivals, concerts, film showings — will have an impact on events-based industries like entertainment.
"Event-based industries are highly reliant on attracting large crowds of people to a specific location," he said. "For at least the next year, these businesses are really going to be hurting and many will be going out of business due to restrictions on large gatherings due to COVID-19."
The barring of large gatherings and non-essential travel can also hurt entertainment projects in the pre-production stages, especially impacting hiring in the film industry.
2. Hospitality and Travel
Overwhelmingly, I heard the top industry to avoid applying in right now is the hospitality and travel industry.
"In the past, the hiring in the hospitality industry was non-stop... However, due to the recent pandemic, hospitality chains chose to let go of much of their staff, which makes it unideal to apply to at this point of time," Willie Greer, Founder of The Product Analyst said.
From airlines that are struggling to fill planes to cruise lines who will struggle to fill ships for years to come because a "huge percentage of cruise patrons are in the higher risk categories for COVID-19," according to Sanders, the industry is in tatters.
3. Oil and Gas
The oil industry is one that's value is visibly shrinking, making it a bad choice for job applications, according to Sanders.
"With oil prices extremely low — and a global recession likely — the oil and gas industry is going to be in a bad place for a while," he said. "Many companies have already been laying off employees and declaring bankruptcy, which is a trend that is likely to continue. Until oil prices begin increasing significantly there is going to be little hiring and a lot of firing in this industry."
4. Marketing and Advertising
In times of economic decline, landing a job in marketing and advertising can be difficult. Businesses are assuming sales aren't going to expand — and they aren't interested in pouring money into making it happen.
"Companies are cutting back their marketing budgets, which means you may be on the chopping block," Neal Taparia, Founder of Solitaired, said. "Instead, try to pivot in product or project management jobs where you have relatable skills."
5. Traditional retail
As several people I spoke to pointed out, much like entertainment, traditional retail often relies on crowds and mounds of disposable income. Without those important moneymakers, we've already seen several high-profile retail bankruptcies. More may be on the way.
Any part of the retail industry that depends heavily on a brick-and-mortar presence is likely still reeling from months of closures and furloughed staff. The industry will need time to recuperate those losses before it looks to expand and hire new talent.
Of course, there are industries that are booming, thanks to quarantine-era lifestyle changes and changes made to businesses as they try to cope with these lifestyle changes. Here are the five industries hiring experts see a lot of potential in.
1. Data Science
Applying for roles in data science — whether as an analyst or a developer or anything in between — is a good path to take in 2020, according to some of people we spoke with. As business moved online, organizations were able to track consumer behaviors in a different way. And they're looking to use those insights to create a more intelligent online and real-world presence — from their ads to the speed of their website.
"Digitalization of every industry is increasing and companies are expanding their investments into making smart decisions based on their expanded data," Sanders said. "Computer Science and Machine Learning backgrounds are more desirable than ever."
DeChesare also spoke to the boom in data-driven business, marking artificial intelligence as a great sector for jobs right now.
Technology — an industry that's experience massive growth since, well, the beginning of time — remains a great place to seek a job thanks to Coronavirus changes that made us evermore dependent on the internet and all the things it can stream or ship to our homes.
"The best sectors for jobs right now are tech and healthcare," DeChesare said, pointing to gains in streaming services, cloud services and other technologies that have made remote working (and living) easier over the last few months.
Dana Case, Director of Operations at MyCorporation.com, would agree.
"Some industries have been positively impacted by COVID-19... telehealth, digital fitness — a good example are Peloton exercise bikes," she said. "I would recommend applying for jobs in these industries and holding off on applications for industries that can draw crowds or are currently experiencing financial hardship."
"Sectors that seem to be continuing to interview and hire completely remotely are technology, healthcare and financial services," Terry B. McDougall, Career Coach and Author, said. "I've had clients with IT backgrounds get offers and begin new jobs during COVID."
Like DeChasare, Case and McDougall said above, healthcare is another industry that hasn't slowed down since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The pandemic created a greater demand for healthcare workers," DeChesare said. And the demand for front-line responders, research and development professionals, mental health professionals and other healthcare employees hasn't slowed down.
Even beyond the front lines, thanks to certain healthcare products like telehealth gaining popularity during quarantine, some less-centered sectors of the industry are also continuing to experience gains.