Written by: Jeff Altman, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Recessions can be scary. They often lead to widespread job losses and a sense of insecurity, even for professionals who are usually less affected by such downturns. A recession means that there are fewer jobs than usual, and people have less money to spend. If you’re worried about your career during this time, know that this is also a great opportunity for you to see how you can make your career recession-proof or at least increase its resistance to any economic downturns. Read these tips on how you can make your career recession-proof and safe from future recessions.
Stay up-to-date with the latest skills and tools
During a recession, you need to be on top of the latest knowledge and tools in your industry. Make sure you’re always learning new skills that can help you advance your career and make you more valuable to your company. You don’t want to be the person who’s not up-to-date with the latest trends in your industry because if you fall behind, you’re likely to either be let go during a recession or have your salary frozen while others still receive raises and progress. If you’re caught up with the latest trends and have the right skills, you’ll be in a much better position to stay employed and get a promotion during a recession.
Frank was a successful recruiter in technology in New York. He worked with many major and mid-tier employers. He called one day, lamenting that he had all of these excellent people to represent, and no one wanted them. “Firms have moved on from that technology,” I told him. You need to move on to what they want. The same is true of you, too. If you don’t have experience in what employers are looking for in your industry, you may turn into Frank, who lost his business because he refused to adapt.
Diversify your income streams
Especially if you’re in a profession that often experiences layoffs, you might want to consider diversifying your income streams. There are lots of ways you can do this, like starting a side hustle. The best part about this is that you can use the skills you already have to make some extra money. You can research what types of side hustles are best for you based on your interests, schedule, and job. Another smart thing to do is to start or continue saving for retirement. It’s never too early (or too late) to start saving for retirement, especially if you don’t have a pension plan. You can do this through retirement savings account like a Roth IRA. In addition, if you have surplus cash available, investing in real estate can provide you with income to help you support yourself and your family during a downturn. Most importantly, having a side hustle can help financially if suddenly you are out of work.
Conserve your capital
Ask yourself, “If I were out of work 3 months from now, would I want to be spending money on this?” Make sure you have a rainy day fund to help you ride through a difficult economy. Get your wife/husband/partner and kids on board proactively with cutting spending.
Be selective about the jobs you apply for and take
During a recession, you’ll likely bit have as many options when it comes to job offers. It can seem scary because you may be tempted to take a job that isn’t a great fit for you. If you take a job that you don’t like or that doesn’t fit your skills, it’ll be much harder to stay employed during a recession or find something that will excite you. When you take a job, look for one that’s a good fit for your skills and personality. If you’re offered a job that doesn’t seem like a good fit, politely let the hiring manager know that you appreciate the opportunity but that the job just isn’t a good fit for you UNLESS YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES ARE DESPERATE. Remember, you can also try to negotiate terms that make the job a better fit for you. Maybe that will be a sign-on bonus. Maybe it will be improved benefits or vacation. In some cases, restricted stock units may make a difference in whether you accept an offer. Remember, accepting a job that doesn’t suit you may leave you trapped in a job you don’t like, even when things get better.
Reconnect with people you know and network like crazy
One of the best things you can do to get a new job during a recession is to reconnect with people you know, especially people who work in your industry. Don’t wait until you need their help and job searching. Be proactive and reconnect before you need them.
If you are actively looking for a new position, let these people know that you’re up for new job opportunities. You can also network with people you don’t know by attending networking events in your area. You can also network online using social media and joining online networking groups. It’s especially important to network before, during, and after a recession because the job board listings will be more scarce, and most companies prefer referrals to pay for ads or recruiter fees. Networking is one of the best ways to find a new job because you’re creating your own job opportunities and being referred by people who are trusted or known to the hiring manager.
I know from experience and data that it isn’t just your immediate relationships/network that will introduce you to a job. It is the people who they know who you don’t know that can provide help.
Find a job search coach FAST!
If you’re worried about your security before or during a recession, it might be a good idea to hire a job search coach. A good coach can help you stay on top of the latest job search trends and find ways to help you get hired that you might not know about. The best part is that coaches work with you and for you one-on-one to help you find a job and make sure that you put your best foot forward when you’re interviewing. A job search coach can help you with things like critiquing your resume, LinkedIn profile, and cover letter, where to look for jobs, how to navigate social media as part of your job search, practicing for interviews, and more. Job search coaches are also a great investment in yourself if you’re worried about your job or finding a job during a recession.
Prepare for the long haul
No one wants to hear this, but your job search may take longer than you think or hope for. Keep in mind that even though a recession might last a few months, it may take you months or even years to find a new job. This can be especially true if you’re trying to change careers. If you’re worried about losing your job during a recession, it might be better to change industries or find a different job within your company or field than the one you’re in. When you’re searching for a new job during a recession, it’s important to be patient and not allow yourself to get discouraged if things aren’t happening as quickly as you want. Set small goals for yourself, like networking with one person a day or contacting one potential former colleague a week.
A recession can be scary, but it’s important to do things to protect your career, make sure it’s safe from risk, and be prepared for action if things suddenly get ugly with your firm. Stay up-to-date with the latest skills and tools in your industry, diversify your income streams, be selective about the jobs you apply for and take, network like crazy, and find a job search coach. It’s also important to mentally and financially prepare for the long haul just in case things take longer than you thought they might. Lastly, do not get discouraged if things don’t yield the results you want as quickly as you would like.
Some people will help you—your wife/husband/partner, former colleagues, friends from years past who you haven’t spoken with in a long time to name a few. There are even people from the school your children attend who may help. Message the people from your past before you or they need one another and say, “It feels like 100 years since we were last in contact. I’ve learned to reach out to people who I haven’t spoken with in a long time to say “Hi,” and reconnect. You’ll be amazed at how this small action can pay such enormous dividends for both of you.
Jeff Altman, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter, is a career and leadership coach who helps people with their careers, including job search, hiring more effectively, managing and leading, and resolving workplace-related issues while being the person they want to be in life. He has written 9 books and guides to job search and hiring, including "The Ultimate Job Interview Framework" and "The Right Answers to Tough Interview Questions." He is the host of No BS Job Search Advice Radio, the #1 podcast in Apple Podcasts for job search with more than 2100 episodes, as well as JobSearchTV.com on YouTube, Amazon, Roku, Apple TV, and 90+ smart sets. Jeff works with clients worldwide and is a popular speaker.