If you’re able to transport your mind to the 1970s for a second, you’ll likely become acquainted with the classic sitcom “Good Times.” The show focused on a Black family attempting to navigate the struggles of divestment and poor policy in the inner city of Chicago, IL.

Episode after episode, the Evans Family faces a barrier that halts their attempt to progress forward. One of the recurring barriers was centered around economic mobility due to low-paying jobs. The patriarch of the family, James Evans, was relentless in his desire to provide a better lifestyle for his family. And one day, the opportunity of a lifetime happens.

The caveat? The job is based in Alaska. It’s not the ideal situation for the family, but the break they needed, and since options were few, the Evans Family made it work until it didn’t work anymore.

For years, bearing some nuances, many people approached the job market similarly – taking whatever opportunities would pay the bills and working their way up a slow but steady corporate ladder. However, there has been a change in the tides.

Many attribute this change to the COVID-19 pandemic, while others may see it as a natural evolution of an aging industry. LinkedIn is at the center of the data explaining this culture shift.

In December 2022, the corporate tech giant surveyed over 2,000 U.S. workers who are bracing themselves for an economic shift. And while the job market has exhibited strength over the past several years, inflation and other economic changes have altered people’s approach to jobs that could mirror some attributes the world saw from James Evans.

More Than Headlines

Several headlines could have job seekers in a frenzy, particularly with massive layoffs in tech – an industry that has been regarded as one of the strongest and most promising. However, Andrew McCaskill, Sr. Director & Career Expert, LinkedIn, advises job seekers to look deeper than the clickbait.

“For job seekers who still feel uncertain, it’s important to know that there are still jobs out there! In the U.S., there is nearly one job opening on LinkedIn for every applicant actively looking for work, nearly double the pre-pandemic average,” McCaskill explained in an email interview. “Another alternative for someone who wants to pivot careers, but is feeling nervous about the job market, is to look for jobs internally.”

Drew McCaskill

Harder For Certain People

As with many things in the United States, the volatile movement of the job market gets more interesting when you look at how it affects Black people. And while there is no surefire way to avoid the negative effects of a looming recession altogether, there are some things people of color, especially Black people, can do to be “recession-proof.”

“Over the past several years, Black and Latino workers have been working hard to ensure their resume or LinkedIn profile is updated and strengthening their networks. At LinkedIn, we call it career cushioning. We’ve been ‘recession proofing’ our careers by taking actions to keep expanding our options and prepare for whatever comes next in the economy,” McCaskill said.

Some of those career cushion ideas include:

  • Learning the skills that are most in demand for the job you want
  • Updating your LinkedIn profile
  • Keeping your network warm
  • Evaluating your next move and non-negotiables (like remote work) to find a job that matches your needs

The resiliency of people of color allows them to find solutions before problems become too massive. At this point, many people consider facing the possibility of being laid off. LinkedIn discovered that diverse employee retention is a persisting issue; competitive wages (46 percent), lack of career growth opportunities (43 percent), and a lack of recognition (25 percent) top the list of why Black professionals are leaving their current roles.

A Generational Divide

The approach to surviving this current job market goes beyond race and ethnicity. LinkedIn data also suggests there are generational differences that exist in job market perception and process.

As Gen Z professionals continue to enter the market, their approach to job security and placement could lead to an overall shift.

“Culture, relationships, and growth opportunities are some of Gen Z’s biggest drivers. They’ve also grown up online; they are savvy and able to use tools like LinkedIn to start conversations, explore new career paths, and learn new skills until they find the role that’s right for them,” McCaskill said to AfroTech.

Since Gen Z might be more tech-savvy than other generations, they seem to have greater access to tools and resources that will help them more easily navigate job sites and have a greater level of agency in their job choices.

This perspective supports the idea that younger workers are more likely than their counterparts to consider changing their current job in 2023, with Gen Z leading the pack at 72 percent compared to Millennials at 66 percent, Gen X at 55 percent, and Baby Boomers at 30 percent.

Big Confident Energy

Despite the uncertainty that exists, employees are confident in the jobs that they have. Black and Latino professionals are pushing and working toward promotion in their current roles. Gen Z, however, is the least confident about their current job situation. Still, 43 percent of current professionals have hope in the roles they are actively employed in.

And while Gen Z seems to be the most confident in their ability to move on, they want to do it on their terms. Sixty percent of Gen Z and 67 percent of Millennials feel there is a negative stigma around unemployment and layoffs. This data is a far cry from the social media narratives that younger generations are willing to abandon jobs to pursue passions.

Regardless of what lies ahead for the economy, people respond the best way they know how and based on what is most ideal for them.

The Evans Family even gave the world a blueprint before they officially hit the screen every night: “Keepin’ your head above water, making a wave when you can.”

Tap into the resources LinkedIn offers to help keep the good times rolling.