The recent financial crisis has challenged even those optimists who always see the glass as half full. Every day brings with it new challenges as we see the stock market dropping to levels we have not seen in years. Those of us who watch our retirement savings dwindle wonder if we will ever be able to retire. During these times many are concerned with keeping their jobs or their businesses.
So what can you do to recession proof your career?
1. The best way to remain gainfully employed is to have marketable skills and a work record that shows accomplishments. My clients who are interviewing for jobs and getting job offers have skills sought out by employers, and are effective at marketing themselves.
2. Take stock of your current situation. Be clear about your strengths and weaknesses. It is crucial that you be brutally honest with yourself, but also confident that you will prevail.
3. If you are concerned about keeping your job, talk to your boss. Find out what you can be doing now to stay with your company. Perhaps it would benefit you to move to another department? If so, ask your boss for help making that transition.
4. This is an excellent time to learn new skills and get certifications in your field. Although companies are still hiring, the competition is very keen. The more credentials you have, the better your chances of distinguishing yourself.
5. All companies need sales people. If you have the aptitude for this kind of job, there are always opportunities.
6. If you are in an industry that is particularly hard hit, like housing related industries, retail, auto or financial services, there are special challenges, but there may also be opportunities. A client who was laid off from a large national home builder currently works for a firm doing foreclosures as well as home closings.
7. You can identify industries that may be recession proof, including teaching, and healthcare, where you can transfer your skills. “Green” jobs, especially those in alternative energy, are growing. At this point there are few people who have skills and experience in this field. So there is also less competition in a growing job market, and the potential for a long term career in this field.
8. We know that certain industries are cyclical in nature. If your first choice is to stay in a cyclical industry, like housing, you need to plan ahead, have significant reserves to shield you in down markets, hunker down and go back to the basics. Sometimes for short periods you may have to do tasks that you don’t enjoy.
9. If you are unemployed, with no unemployment benefits or severance, you may want to consider getting an interim job, defined here as a full-time job that is not in your career path, or a part-time job to have money coming it. The job search can be very tedious, and having the structure to get you out of the house can help.
10. Plan for the worst case scenario, but envision the best case. See yourself as prosperous. Just as the “doom and gloom” mentality has hurt the stock market, it can hurt you as well.