You have heard about the R-word in newspapers, magazines, blogs, TV channels and almost every where on the internet. Social media channels are buzzing with it, no matter which part of the world you are living in. No matter what Mr Trump says, experts are claiming that recession is going to hit somewhere in 2020 and if yield curves are to be believed, then it certainly looks like the case. The yield curves have inverted and if the trend continues for the next 12-18 months, it may well lead to a recession by this time next year. Although other indicators are not as bad as they were the last time, yet people are on tenterhooks. Recession hits job seekers, graduates and young professionals the hardest and signs of it are already emerging in different parts of the world.
China, Germany and India are all showing signs of growth slowdown and it’s certainly not a good news for professionals in these countries.
How can you secure your career in the face of an impending recession and what can you do to get a job in case the recession actually arrives?
What happens when a recession arrives?
Based on past trends, recession leads to massive job cuts as growth slows down in key sectors. New jobs are not created and people find it difficult to stay employed. Other trends like salary freezes, increased workloads, reduced team strength and a constant fear of losing your job become the norm. Countries struggle to keep their unemployment levels low during the economic downturn.
Survival of the fittest?
So, who loses their job when the recession hits? Are the top performers safer than weaker ones? These are some of the first questions that arise in every working professional’s mind. The target group that lost the greatest number of jobs in the last recession were the average performing older employees that cost company more on the payroll. Young managers are next in line, even if they are cheaper or performing better. The only ones that are relatively safer are the older employees that are high performing even at the cost of being expensive.
The ideal way to stay safe is,
- Work like your life depends on it
- Don’t expect a raise rather expect a salary freeze or pay cut
- Don’t get old if you are not a strong performer. (Well you can’t control this one though)
How can you secure your job and career in times of recession?
Even though you may have little control over layoff decisions, you can still do plenty to secure your job. Your plans for securing your future should ideally begin right now, when you can still see the recession from a fair distance.
1. Be optimistic everyday
More than securing your job, it becomes a question of surviving in your career. A large part of survival lies in optimism. This means that even though you know the situation is going to be grim in the future, don’t be the “negative guy” in your team or company. No one wants to hang around these people who attract negativity from all corners. You should carry a pleasant and positive personality that lightens up the environment. It certainly works in your favor when the company needs to choose between an incompetent jerk and a pleasant coworker. If you have a pleasant and positive personality, it would definitely help you in keeping your job.
2. Get a new skill
During the times of recession, the market would be abundant with high-skill professionals. In the last recession period, employers raised the education and skill requirements within the jobs. Companies were looking for people with better educational degrees and more experience than actually required to make the most out of the available job applicant pool.
Upskilling is an aspect that can help you in your career in times of recession. Just like a Swiss Army Knife, your ability to be multi-purpose would be one of the most valued skills in tough times when the employers can’t afford to carry different tools (read employees) in their bag (read company).
Don’t just rely on your baseline skills but rather develop specialized skills so that you can leverage on them during the period you need them the most. So if you are delaying learning a new language or undertaking a certification course, now is the time you should pursue it.
Usually companies undergo reorganization during recession and many groups are consolidated. This is your chance to wear multiple hats and use all your previous experiences to bring the best out of yourself. Layoffs can create unexpected opportunities if you manage to stay within the company. Be ready for them when they arrive.
3. Be your leader’s best deputy
Recession is a tough time for everyone, including your manager and senior leadership. When everyone can see that tough times are coming, it’s best to focus on your work and not create any new problems for top leadership. Your customers would also need your company’s attention more than ever. Take charge of resolving customer issues and help your leaders with all your might. All other things being equal, if you have a good working relationship with your manager, you’re less likely to get axed. Maturity at workplace and more importantly your ability to empathize would give you a strong edge over competition.
4. Develop a strong social network
You network would be your biggest strength in your tough times. We are not just talking about LinkedIn Network, but your overall connections that include people who are not on LinkedIn but worth keeping in touch.
Don’t stay under the radar hoping that the recession wave wouldn’t catch you. Instead, be visible and develop strong connections both within and outside your company to weather the storm. Socialize with people outside of your company and get a view on what’s happening in their industry. Are they facing similar challenges or are they better off than your industry? What skills are needed for a transition from your industry to theirs? Try to find answers to these questions and develop a network that expands beyond your industry and geography.
5. Create a career strategy for recession
While you may not feel the urgency or need of having a career strategy right now, but you can’t sharpen your sword when the enemy attacks.
Your initial natural response during job search would be to start firing off resumes and scrolling infinite job advertisements. You won’t be finding many job opportunities to begin with once the recession hits. Many things have changed since the last recession, LinkedIn is more powerful than it was during last recession. Social media has taken the center-stage in recent times. Leverage all your resources and create a personal brand for yourself to help you get a job quickly. Hire someone to help you in developing your own personal brand.
Most companies don’t take unnecessary risks in hiring during times recession. They prefer to stick to professionals who have done a similar job before. So it would definitely work in your favor if you are applying for an exactly similar role that you have handled before.
Pivoting your career during recession
If you are planning to change your career, an impending recession is certainly not the best time.
Even in the best of times, changing careers requires a lot of effort. During an impending recession, it would be even more difficult for you to convince the hiring manager to choose you over someone who has the exact same experience.
You should definitely have a strong plan for yourself, in case you want to make career switch around this time.
1. Be ready to start at lower scale
If you want to change your career, you should be ready to start for a lower salary. Even during the current economic scenario, getting a higher salary offer is not easy. During recession, it can also mean starting at a junior position and working your way upwards. Don’t worry about the job titles yet and focus on having a foot in the door. In case the recession arrives, you should not be the obvious choice for getting fired from the company for getting overpaid. Focus on your contributions in your new role from the first day itself and leverage your perspectives from your previous role to your advantage.
2. Get an MBA (only if you have the money)
If you want to switch career in recession, getting an MBA might turn out to be the right choice. You can utilize the economic downturn by learning new skills about a new field that would help you navigate your career change. Your job application would be much stronger if you have a degree in a field in which you want to make your career change. Although you should not expect a high salary straight after your MBA in tough economic scenario. But it’s still a better option if you are willing to change careers. Go for an MBA only if you have surplus cash to spare or are desperately looking for a career change. The ROI from an MBA program would take a longer time to materialize during economic downturn.
3. Go beyond your network for help (Starting Today!)
Don’t just depend on your current network to make the career change during recession. Chances are that your current network is full of professionals who have similar industry or educational background as yours. Start expanding your network in the area you want to move. Have a list of questions ready for these people about their industry and roles. Meet them over coffee and ask them about their opinion on your career strategy. These people can give you first hand advice that would help you align your career strategy.
No matter what happens in the future, it’s always a good idea to take control of your career.
At StepVue, we work with candidates on their job search strategy and help them achieve their career goals. We provide personalized Resume and CV Review Services, Cover Letter assistance , LinkedIn Profile Review and Personal Branding and much more to help you in your job search.
Good luck with your job search!