Drake released an album, “Scary Hours.” And while many resonated with its theme, many likely didn’t believe that today’s job market would take on some similar sentiments.

Currently, job seekers are navigating turbulent and interesting times. There are consistent layoffs but also an influx of available job postings of new openings.

Couple that dichotomy with the inflation rate, and the job search process takes on a life of its own that many were not expecting, especially the most recent graduating cohort.

According to data provided by LinkedIn, the Class of 2023 is graduating into a challenging job market, with data showing that hiring is down 45% for those who recently finished their bachelor’s degree, compared to the same time last year. It also showed that hiring dropped 37% year over year for entry-level jobs that do not require a college degree.

This reality hits a little harder for Black and Latino career starters. LinkedIn shared that based on a Federal Reserve Economic Data report, the unemployment gap between Black/Latino and White workers typically rises during economic downturns.

But, like with anything, all hope is not lost. AfroTech spoke with Jahleane Dolne, a LinkedIn Creator, to share her first-hand advice on navigating professional spaces as a first-generation career starter.

Dolne is a University of California Santa Barbara graduate who pivoted from her initial interest in the medical field to navigating the business industry. However, after experiencing considerable success through promotion, Dolne left her company during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to look for additional development opportunities.

As the pandemic would have it, landing a job at that time would not be easy. Realizing she could not do it alone, Dolne tapped into resources including LinkedIn to help her on her career journey.

“On social media, the career gurus stressed the importance of optimizing your LinkedIn profile for search so recruiters would come to you,” Dolne explained. “At the time, LinkedIn felt intimidating since I was a new grad, and it was a new platform for me. Despite this, I spent $20 on resources to learn how to use the platform and optimize my profile for search.”

The investment would prove beneficial as she began to receive calls and emails from big tech companies, eventually ending her six-month job search. But it was through sharing her story that allowed her to become a LinkedIn Creator who soon founded The Postgrad Playbook — a budding new brand helping folks navigate the notoriously tricky transition into adulthood after college.

Despite Dolne’s challenges during this time, she tapped into her why and creative spirit to create the career and life she ultimately desired.

And a part of that was strengthening and cultivating her network through LinkedIn.

“They’re often arms-length relationships that have access to different networks and opportunities than we do, and as a result, are more beneficial for job opportunities and wages than your strong ties,” Dolne said. “To break into your network of weak ties, dive into your university’s alumni network to see if anyone is actively working in your desired industry that you can message. LinkedIn is one of the best platforms to build your network virtually by optimizing your profile.”

Dolne has six key questions that helped her, and she suggests job seekers consider them when looking for the ideal opportunity.

  • Who/what do you look at and say to yourself, “I wish I had that?”
  • What is it about this person/thing you wish you had?
  • What about your current career do you want to stray away from?
  • What’s something that comes to you naturally?
  • What’s your “why?”

These questions clarified the type of career Dolne wanted, and that’s how she targeted her search and priorities. Coupled with the use of LinkedIn, what was once a burden became far more success-inducing, she says.

“Whatever you’re looking to accomplish professionally — press, clients, connections, etc., LinkedIn can be a tool to get there faster,” Dolne said. “The folks that can make a decision are on LinkedIn, so connect with them by sending a personalized message, commenting on their posts, and building relationships organically.”

In addition to utilizing LinkedIn in your job search, those seeking new opportunities can submit their resume to get hired through AfroTech’s network.

Learn more about our Resume Book here and LinkedIn’s products here.