Half of Companies in a Recent Survey Are Hiring

New claims for unemployment benefits reported Thursday hit an all-time high nearly five times greater than the previous high. New claims totaled about 3.2 million last week as Americans who have been told to remain at home filed for benefits.

In some industry sectors, reported job losses have reached eye-watering levels. While the news on the jobs front remains mostly bad, there are some bright spots. Two of the country’s largest employers, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT), have announced a combined 150,000 current job openings.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said on Friday that it had tracked 129,000 hiring announcements from individual companies, including PepsiCo Inc. (NASDAQ: PEP) and Domino’s Pizza Inc. (NYSE: DPZ).

According to a Challenger survey, 48% of 200 companies the firm surveyed are hiring now. Among the companies seeking new workers, 79% are using web and phone interviews. Just 16% are conducting in-person interviews, and of the 56% that have already hired new employees, two-thirds are using video sessions for orientation and training.

Senior Vice President Andrew Challenger commented: “The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused unprecedented impact to the economy and labor market. Millions of people, many of whom previously worked primarily in Leisure and Hospitality, have found themselves without work. However, retailers, medical device makers, consumer products manufacturers, and transportation and warehousing facilities are all thriving right now.”

Challenger continued: “This could be a great opportunity for those who were having trouble finding work before the outbreak, perhaps due to a criminal record or other potential infraction that was keeping them from getting hired, to get their foot in the door.”

Challenger, Gray also offers a few tips for finding a new job in the current climate. Networking is still possible, although the meetings have to be by phone or video sessions. Learn how to use common video conferencing tools and chose a well-lit, quiet spot with a neutral background for any video conferences. And, perhaps it goes without saying, apply for as many jobs as possible and stay positive.