How to Recession-Proof Your Career

LinkedIn News reported today, “A clear majority of economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal now say they expect the U.S. to enter a recession within the next 12 months. The latest tally shows 63% predicting a recession in the next year, a big jump from July’s 49%.”

If you worked through the 2008 recession or previous economic downturns, the thought of another lurch can make your stomach turn. With layoffs on the rise, it’s tempting to wonder, am I next?

We will never know what the future holds (hello, March 2020). But what we do know, and what history tells us, is that the people and organizations willing to meet uncertainty head-on are the ones that last. Instead of constantly hitting refresh for the latest interest rates (or the status of  your 401K) try these tactics instead:

Invest in your relationships. Inside and outside of your organization, relationships are what give you insights and connect you to opportunities. This tactic is not meant to be manipulative. In fact, just the opposite. When we show up with a desire to serve, we quiet our own fear-based lizard brain, enabling us to think more strategically, be creative, and ultimately, make better decisions. If you’re feeling uneasy, your network is likely experiencing the same. Reach out with a how can I help mindset.

Learn new skills. Instead of ‘where did you go to school?’ or ‘where did you last work?’, the question smart employers are asking is… ‘what can you do?’ Skills are key to helping you stand out, stay competitive, and ultimately, recession-proof your career. Recent LinkedIn data shows that job skill sets have changed by around 25% since 2015 and are expected to change by 41% by 2025. Even if you’re not planning on searching for a new job, the talent pool is becoming more competitive, and you must keep pace. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to learn to code or be able to explain whatever blockchain is. Investing in skills like communication, time management, and problem-solving can safeguard your value.

Add to your resume (before you forget). The time to update your resume (and LinkedIn profile) is not 5 years after you started your job. As time passes, we forget what we did or minimize the value. Even if you’re not formally updating your resume, keeping track of your major contributions, learning, and accomplishments ensures you won’t forget important details if you start a new job search. You can do the same thing by regularly asking for recognition or recommendations, not just when you need them.

Be visible. When we are afraid, we tend to shrink ourselves. Primally, we somehow think that the smaller and quieter we are, the less the threat will target us. That works if you’re being chased by a tiger, but it’s not particularly helpful in times of economic unrest. Staying visible keeps you relevant. Highlight your accomplishments, share industry data, and engage regularly inside and outside your organization.
Headlines are quick to paint a doom-and-gloom horizon, but you’re not powerless. The world is always uncertain- the last two years have made that glaringly obvious. How we quiet our fear, look challenges in the face, and take preemptive action determines what we experience on the other side.