2021 Grad’s Guide to Getting Hired: Top jobs, cities and industries to get your start


Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

2021 Grad’s Guide to Getting Hired: Top jobs, cities and industries to get your start

  • Published on May 18, 2021
LinkedIn News

LinkedIn News


“Congratulations, graduate!”

Whether the message is delivered over Zoom or at a backyard barbecue, it’s a season of celebration. But many new grads are also asking, “Where do I go next?”

LinkedIn’s Grad’s Guide to Getting Hired aims to uncover job opportunities for anyone kicking off their careers. Our data scientists and editors have parsed the data to find the jobs, industries and cities with strong options for new grads and others starting out — as well as more insights that can help career beginners find their way.

This is the second graduation season in the COVID-19 era. And while the Class of 2020 entered a job market that had been shaken to its core by the pandemic, a few key signs point to a friendlier hiring climate for those entering the job market right now.

LinkedIn’s Hiring Rate, which measures how quickly members find work, for the Class of 2020 recovered to pre-pandemic levels by October after a summer of extremely difficult hiring conditions. Such news bodes well for the Class of 2021.

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Another cause for cautious optimism? As more people get vaccinated and pandemic-related restrictions ease up, employers are signaling plans to dial up their hiring at the entry level. According to a survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, companies are planning to hire 7.2% more fresh graduates than they did in 2020.

Getting started

Taking the first step in a long career journey can feel daunting. For those who are unsure, here’s one first move: Go where the growth is.

“Growth begets opportunities,” says Gorick Ng, a career adviser at Harvard College and author of “The Unspoken Rules: Secrets to Starting Your Career Off Right.” “You want to find yourself in a company that’s growing like crazy and therefore hiring like crazy, and you can say the same thing about companies, industries and cities.”

So, where’s the growth? LinkedIn’s Economic Graph Team took a close look at what industries and jobs are in high demand, where entry-level hiring is happening and the skills employers desire most from new hires. Start scrolling to dig in.

Jobs and industries on the rise

In many ways, the sectors and jobs on the rise today reflect the demands of America’s pandemic economy. The transportation and logistics, health care and tech industries are looking to hire en masse. These three fields accounted for the most entry-level openings in the U.S., according to LinkedIn’s analysis of open positions in the first three months of 2021.

Read more: There’s an art to career networking: new college data provides insights

The fastest-growing entry level positions across all industries in the U.S. tell a similar tale, with positions like software engineer, online specialist (most commonly a marketing and customer service role), and sterilization technician showing especially strong growth in the early part of 2021. These entry level jobs span a range of education levels, from high school to Bachelor’s degrees.

Here are the full lists of top industries and jobs for entry-level workers:

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See the open jobs in these industries: Transportation & Logistics | Healthcare | Software & IT Services | Retail | Consumer Goods

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Looking to work from home or unable to switch cities for work? Here are the top entry-level remote roles:

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Top cities for new grads and career starters

Deciding where to set down roots at the start of your career is no simple decision, and it often involves factors that go beyond simply identifying the right professional opportunity. For those who need help whittling down their options, though, it helps to focus on the regions with the most opportunities in their field of choice and cities that are showing noticeable upticks in hiring.

Read more: LinkedIn members’ best advice for the Class of 2021

NYC, the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area and Chicago landed at the very top of the heap among regions with the most entry-level openings in early 2021, with open roles concentrated in health care, software and transportation. But don’t discount places like Dallas and Boston, which showed some of the fastest growth among the cities with the most openings, according to LinkedIn’s analysis.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area showed a 40% uptick in entry-level openings from early 2020, with large employers like JPMorgan Chase and Walmart among the top hiring companies. Companies in the region are looking for sales staffers, software engineers and health care assistants. Meanwhile, employers in Boston, which saw a 26% increase in entry-level openings since early 2020, are on the hunt for certified nursing assistants and sales staff.

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For those who are more interested in venturing beyond the largest cities, several smaller regions in the U.S. have experienced rapid hiring growth at the entry level. This includes the Morgantown and Wheeling regions of West Virginia and Ohio, which have seen a huge increase in demand for health care workers as West Virginia University’s hospital system (WVU Medicine) continues a major expansion in the area. Tampa Bay, Florida also ranked as a hiring hotspot for new grads, with finance and software employers particularly keen on finding fresh talent.

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Brush up on your skills

What are entry-level employers looking for in new hires? Beyond the minimum requirements for each particular job — coursework or certifications in particular disciplines, internship experience in the field, etc. — companies are also interested in bringing on employees who can demonstrate strength in a host of softer skills, like time management and customer service. Here are the most commonly cited skills in demand among entry-level employers, along with links to LinkedIn Learning courses that can help you get started.

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LinkedIn Learning Courses

Analytical Skills

Project Management

Customer Service


Time Management

Taking the next step

As you can see, if you’re getting your career started right now, you have plenty of options on what jobs to pursue and where to live. Having such an abundance of choices can be both a blessing and a curse.

How can you narrow your options? Try imagining a future professional life that you would find fulfilling. What kinds of tasks are you performing? What type of environment are you working in? What sort of goals are you working toward? Then, take these future visions and work backwards.

“Think not about your first job, but your second or third job,” advises Harvard’s Ng.

Seek out first jobs, internships or volunteer opportunities that will give you the initial skills, relationships and experiences that will move you closer to that ideal professional spot.

“Your first job won’t be your last job, but your first job can put you on the path to getting to where you want to be more effectively,” Ng adds.

Trying to choose between several different job offers? First of all, congratulations! To help you make a good call, Ng suggests you weigh each opportunity based on the following 10, unranked factors:

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Remember, your first job doesn’t need to be perfect. It’s a place to start. “There’s a difference between holding out for the best job in the universe and picking the best job you can given where you are today and then making the most of that experience,” says Ng.

Good luck, and happy hunting!

What advice do you have for the Class of 2021 as they navigate today’s uncertain job market? Please share your thoughts below! #TakeTheNextStep

Methodology: LinkedIn’s Economic Graph team analyzed millions of entry-level job postings to identify the most common and fastest growing positions listed on the platform. The team examined jobs posted on LinkedIn between January 1 and March 31 of 2019, 2020 and 2021. Job postings are categorized as entry-level by job posters when they submit openings on LinkedIn. LinkedIn identified recent graduates based on Bachelor’s and Associate’s degree completion dates listed in members’ profiles. For the in-demand skills section, the Economic Graph team examined skills requirements in full time entry-level job postings between January 1 and March 31 of 2019, 2020 and 2021, identifying the most frequently cited required skills in the widest array of industries. LinkedIn salary data comes from anonymous member-submitted salary information as well as compensation data from other proprietary sources.