10 Ways to Recession Proof Your Career

Photo by Nicolas Cool on Unsplash

So things seem pretty good right now-the economy is strong, unemployment has been below 5% since January 2016, qualified candidates have their pick of job offers, real estate is a seller’s market, and your investment portfolio is doing pretty well. Why should you think about managing your career during a recession now? Because the smartest of the smart people are all looking at the United States’ current economic status and predicted a drop. This isn’t about politics or fake news, these are respected journalists, financial experts, and publications that are warning us of the next recession.

Olivier Garret shared strong data in a recent Forbes article showcasing how “twin bubbles” including global debt and government overpromises will lead to a recession that will “effect everyone in a big way.” Caroline Mortimer penned an article for the Independent in June explaining that emerging markets such as China are showing the same signs of economic overheating the US and UK did before the ‘07/’08 financial crisis. Joachim Fels stated in a recent Barron’s article that “we believe the probability of a global recession sometime in the next five years is around 70%”. Financial bloggers like Mr. Money Mustache aren’t as generous with their predictions suggesting a recession could occur anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 years from now. Finally, Jared Bernstein, former chief economist to Vice President Biden, warns that we’re not over the last recession and are headed for another one in his latest Washington Post article.

Many of us have become pretty comfortable in our new office chairs with fewer financial worries than we had in 2008. For most of us that comfort has caused our memories to be a little cloudy, allowing us to forget what it was really like. We lived through it too and let us remind you it is bad, really bad to lose everything when you’re not at all prepared. So let’s talk about what you can do to prepare your career for the next national and possibly global recession.

  1. Start preparing for your job search now. Even if Mr. Fels is right and the recession is 5 years out that time will fly by. Make the most of the good economy we have by building your network and leveraging relationships to get as far ahead as you can. Don’t tell yourself you’re too busy working to keep in touch with colleagues who are a wealth of industry information. Those are the people you’ll need when times get tough so put in the work now to keep those relationships strong even in the good times.
  2. Prepare your resume. You already know that you should be updating your resume on the first day of your new job but it’s important to make sure the accomplishments listed on your resume reflect your most recent projects. The time to gather all of the documentation such as reviews, examples of work, data, and metrics is before you’re downsized. This is also the time to invest in a professional resume writer. When the recession hits money is going to feel even scarcer than it does currently, so invest now in a strong resume professional who will help you showcase all of your accomplishments.
  3. Reach out to recruiters. Good recruiters have the inside scoop on what is happening throughout the industry, community, and job market. Get to know a few good recruiters and regularly stay in touch. If they ask for help in networking to fill a position, help them out. Be a wealth of knowledge for them and they’ll be a wealth of knowledge for you. These relationships can be vital when the chips are down.
  4. Begin using and/or cleaning up your social media feeds. If you’re not on a minimum of LinkedIn, now is the time to start a profile. If you’re on LinkedIn but your profile hasn’t been dusted off in a while, it’s time to get it updated. A recession will send everyone to LinkedIn at the same time and your profile is going to get lost in all of the noise so now is the time to take action. This is also the time to begin interacting on LinkedIn. Post interesting articles that are about your industry, company, or professional passion and begin building a name for yourself. Start to “like” and comment on others’ posts too. This will help you build that network we talked about so that when you need someone they don’t find themselves asking “Who is this guy?” Don’t forget to clean up your Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds Remember that dinner table rules apply-nothing you wouldn’t want shown on the nightly news and stay away from politics and religion.
  5. Education, certifications, and training. Take advantage of the training and educational opportunities currently provided by your employer. It’s easy to be too busy to take that course, go to that seminar, or go back to college even when your employer is footing the bill. Life gets in the way but this is the time to take advantage of your employers’ generosity. Your training, certifications, and education will follow you wherever you go and will set you apart from candidates with similar backgrounds.
  6. Recession proof jobs and businesses. No matter how bad things may get, there are certain positions that have to be filled. In 2016 CNBC created a list of recession proof jobs that included medical professionals, teachers, accountants, and even funeral directors.   Industries that thrive during the economy include bankruptcy law, government, education, cosmetic manufacturing, and discount retailers. Ask yourself if your industry is recession proof. If not, considering targeting your next search to industries that have a stronger chance of surviving the next recession.
  7. Start a side hustle. What’s a side hustle? It’s the modern way of saying, “something that makes you money on the side” or what some would call a second part time job. Side hustles can take a variety of forms online or offline. Maybe it’s time to start bottling and selling that hot sauce everyone begs you to make at Christmas, maybe it’s teaching online courses on sites like com or at a local university, maybe it’s even gardening or mowing lawns. Ask yourself what your good at and start doing it. Multiple streams of income might be your savior during a recession. The extra cash can go along way and you never know when you’re going to need your side hustle to fall back on.
  8. Pay down your debt. Everyone has a different tolerance for debt but when the recession hits and your job is at risk every penny of debt is going to feel like thousands of dollars so get rid of it while you can. It’s easy to think you need that expensive watch because you’ve earned it and you probably have but if you’ll be faced with paying it off when your job is at risk reconsider.
  9. Have a talk with your financial advisor. Remember those recession proof industries we were talking about? They might be a safer bet for your investments if you don’t have the tolerance you did before the last crisis. Investopedia has some good tips on what to look for too. Consulting a reputable financial consultant will make all the difference when the time comes.
  10. Don’t panic. This all sounds like doom and gloom and it can be really scary. This is why it’s so important to start preparing now for what’s to come. If those really smart people turn out to be wrong you’ve still set yourself up for success and that’s never a bad plan.

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