As we recently reported, a recession is looming large on the horizon. Recessions are periods of economic instability and firms can go bust, or cut staff to shore up their finances. Fewer jobs are available in a recession, which increases competition. Now is the time to take steps to recession-proof your career. How can you ensure you’re kept on rather than laid off? If you are laid off, what can you do to ensure you beat competition for a new role? Here at ACA we draw on decades of experience to bring our candidates the best tips to recession-proof your career. These are top tips on maximising value in your current role and ensuring you have a competitive edge for changing roles.
- Stay Current on Industry Development
Your employer needs to see you as relevant and valuable; to achieve this you need to be up to date with your industry. To do this, follow trade publications and thought leaders in your area. By knowing what developments and trends are on the horizon, you can ensure you gain the right skills and experience ahead of time. Whether you’re keen to stay in your current role, or want to secure a new position, you’ll be ready to tackle emerging advances in your field whilst your competition may not.
- Be Versatile
Being versatile can be more important than being best at any one thing in your firm. In a recession there is a likelihood that more work is done by fewer staff. It follows that staff who have the versatility to transfer their skills will become indispensable to the company. Further, versatility is strongly linked with flexibility, and if your boss sees you as someone who it’s easy to manage, that will make them want to hang on to you.
- Show Leadership
Be seen to get along with and motivate both peers and colleagues. During a downturn bosses have less tolerance for staff who are productive but problematic and will want to retain those who are able to remain positive in challenging times. Take opportunities to demonstrate your problem-solving abilities and initiative towards big picture solutions as these are the qualities needed for solving the challenges that financial difficulties throw up.
- Brush Up Your Soft Skills
If two colleagues, or two job candidates, have very similar professional skills and experience, what will set them apart? Most likely, their interpersonal skills. They may not be an integral part of your role, but if you’re able to demonstrate traits such as good communication, effective time management, positive negotiation ability, successful project management, achievable work-life balance, good personal presentation etc. then your emotional intelligence will keep you in demand.
- Be Visible
You want to remain on the radar of your firm and your industry. How to achieve this will depend on your individual circumstances but there are a lot of platforms where you can increase your visibility. Staying current on your industry (point 1, above) means you’ll have an awareness of forthcoming developments, find one that’s relevant to your role and research it. You can then share this in-depth knowledge via a company memo, an article for a trade magazine, or a conference presentation. You can also share your dissemination efforts via networking platforms such as LinkedIn. Do this regularly and you’ll develop a reputation as a thought leader in your field.
- Plan Ahead
You shouldn’t just be horizon scanning for your own development, look at your firm’s development too. Has your firm stagnated whilst the rest of the sector experiences growth? Are there challenges on the horizon which are likely to cause restructuring? If so, you should consider seeking out a new role before your firm starts making cut-backs. A move to a new firm which has been succeeding could be more profitable to your career than hanging on in your own firm if it’s struggling before the recession has even hit. Also, make provision for a financial buffer to see you through any gaps e.g. between working your notice and starting your new role.
Networking effectively can be a key component of career success at the best of times, but in a recession its crucial. By maintaining existing connections and cultivating new ones, you can be better informed not only of developments in your industry but who is hiring and firing before it becomes public knowledge. It also means that if a contact alerts you to a potential opportunity they may also be willing to broker the introduction.
- Mentor and Be Mentored
Mentoring is a two-way street with benefits to both the mentor and their mentees. Being mentored by someone more senior in your industry (but not in the same organisation) can pay dividends. A mentor can give you valuable insight and aid your career trajectory, they can also put you forward for opportunities to which you might not otherwise have access. Having mentees is also beneficial (ideally both at your firm and outside it) not only does it extent the reach of your personal network but you are seen as a leader in your industry (point 3).
- Communicate with Your Recruiter
Yes that’s us! In a recession, job openings become scarce and competition is high, so keep in touch with your recruiter so they bear you in mind for potential opportunities. Tell them about your career plans and any concerns you might have. Ensure they have up to date details for your career (CV etc) and to contact you (including a mobile number). Any roles are likely to be filled more quickly in a recession than usual, so if a recruiter can’t reach you on the phone they will move onto the next candidate.
- Keep your CV fresh
This is a good habit to get into ahead of a recession. If an opportunity comes up you can get in there quickly (see point 9 above). It’s useful to get advice or feedback from your recruiter on content and layout. This is especially important if it’s been a while since you’ve been in the job market. Your CV is often the first opportunity for a prospective employer to notice you and you want to ensure it gives you the best chance of securing that all-important face to face interview.