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5 Ways to Recession Proof Your Career

business career advice Apr 24, 2020

I find it fascinating that in 2019 the National Association for Business Economics pointed to indicators that signaled we were heading for a recision in 2020 or 2021. While they didn't include a global pandemic as one of the indicators, the point is history has shown us how volatile the market can be. When we experience these ups and downs, the impact on your job and career can be significant. 

In fact, I recently read that 4.4 million people have filed for unemployment in this country and forecasters are predicting that these high unemployment rates may last for a few more years.

If you’re lucky enough to still have a job during all of this craziness, you may be slightly worried about holding on to it. And if you’re currently out of work, or got recently laid off, I know you want to bounce back as quickly as possible.

While you have no control over the economy, you can have control of how you manage your career and there are a few steps you can take right now.  Now, the obvious way to recession proof your career is by creating multiple streams of income. In other words, you can start a new side hustle or ramp up your side-hustle. The point is, being proactive beats being reactive everyday.

With that, here are five things you can do to recession-proof your career.

1. Shift Your Career Lens

You're more than your job title. When your identity is dependent solely on a job or job title, you've conditioned your subconscious mind to base your self-worth and self-esteem on your employment situation. Sociologists call this role engulfment  where your sense of self exist through your work. As a result, the loss of work caused by something like a layoff, or even an impending layoff, can provoke a severe identity crisis. 

Now is a perfect time to rethink what you want to do in your career. Instead of focusing on the job or the job title, focus of your gifts, strengths, skills, values and the impact you want to make through your career. This will give you a more expansive view of career possibilities.

Look at it this way. Right now you've put the puzzle pieces of your career together and came up with an image of the work you're doing now. However, those same puzzle pieces can be rearranged to create a slightly, or even completely new picture. Start looking at your skills, gifts, strengths and talents with a new lens, and you'll realize there's so much more you can do than what's been in front of you. With this new lens you'll find that you'll be more nimble and adaptable whenever the economic tides turn.

2. Stop Applying Online

Here's the good and bad news of what happens during a recession. The bad news is that there's tremendous job loss, but the good news is that a recession also tends to necessitate new hires and job creation to meet the current needs of the climate. When you apply for these positions online your application, along with the other 300 applications, are overloading the email of the recruiter or hiring manager. It's really, really, really difficult to rise about the crowd when you can't really connect with them energetically. 

Instead you want to reach out and connect with people directly so they can see you, know you, and understand why you're who they want for the job. Even in a recession, over 84% of people land their ideal jobs through contacts and relationships, not online applications. 

3. Invest in Yourself

Money may be tight for you during this time, but there are sooo many low an no cost courses and trainings you can take to improve your communication and leadership skills, or to upgrade your Excel or programming skills. Start with a skill assessment and determine where you're solid and in what areas can you use improvement. You should assess your skill sets against your ideal positions, present and future. Don't just take courses for fun or interest. There's plenty of time to do that after you are employed.  

Doing this now will pay off dividends in the future because you're advancing your skills and remaining competitive in an ever changing marketplace. Up leveling your skills sets is the best way to proactively recession-proof your career.

4. Establish Your Brand Online

In today's competitive market it would be negligent, and irresponsible, not to develop a strong personal brand. There has never been a better time to stand up and showcase exactly what makes you authentically and uniquely YOU then during a recession. It's important for you to find ways to stand out and above your competition because social technology has brought us within reach of each other and positioned us all on a global stage.

If you're wondering where you want to cultivate your professional brand, start with your LinkedIn profile. In many ways, your profile serves a your own personal business website. So like any other business, you want to form a favorable impression within those 3-5 seconds you're given to captivate and inspire. Position yourself as a leader in the digital space and you'll be seen as the sought after commodity you truly are.

5. Leverage Your Networks

As I noted above, over 84% of people find their ideal job through their networks. So, it should go without saying that one thing you should be doing is making new and nurturing existing connections. By making this an on-going part of your career management plan, when you need to leverage your network to your advantage, you won't be starting from scratch.

Building and nurturing a network is about building relationships. That means when you reach out to people you should consider how you can support them as much as how you can be supported. LinkedIn is designed to support your efforts by giving you birthday, anniversary, and new position alerts from your connections. These personal announcements can open the door for you to take your connection deeper, enabling you to create a real network. 

You know the saying, luck is where preparation meets opportunity? By being proactive in your career management strategy on a daily basis, you'll successfully position yourself to receive those "lucky" breaks that will come your way during a recession.

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