Recession-Proof Your Career with These 6 Tips

What goes up must come down. It’s a lesson we’ve learned time and again, but it’s one politicians and businesspeople conveniently ignored during the early 2000s. Then the Great Recession hit, and we’ve acted in accordance since.

Kidding, kidding. Today, the economy is up, unemployment is down, politicians are bragging, and businesspeople are high-fiving. But what goes up…

We don’t know when the next recession will hit; only that it will. To recession-proof your career and prepare for the inevitable, consider these six tips.

Recession-proof your career, not your job

Your career represents the time you commit to your profession throughout your working life. Your job is a piece of that whole, so we shouldn’t consider the two transposable.

Recession-proof doesn’t mean keeping your job—the worst can happen through no fault of your own. It means fortifying your professional value.

This value is the culmination of your skills, talents, experiences, and resources. It’s also transferable. The higher your professional value, the easier it will be to secure another job should the worst happen.

Boost your skills

The best way to accrue professional value is continuous learning. Update mature skills to stay current. Develop new ones to open new opportunities. And don’t neglect in-demand soft skills that pay dividends in any industry.

Sign up for classes, workshops, and other training resources offered through professional organizations and government programs. You can also find programs online that teach any skill or subject. Some, such as Khan Academy and CodeCademy, are entirely free.

Industries are always evolving; you should be, too.

Stand out

Volunteer for projects others shy away from. Suggest new ideas and methods for streamlining difficult processes. Complete your projects on time and under budget. Your supervisor will think twice before letting you go.

As a bonus, effective employees grow their professional value tremendously. New projects are sent their way. Supervisors trust them to meet unprecedented challenges. They are given more responsibility and are required to build new skills. All of which help your resume stand out, too.

Strengthen your network

Don’t rely solely on your current colleagues. If the company goes under, they will be in the same straits. Instead, always be networking.

Join local organizations, reach out through LinkedIn, attend professional mixers, and discover speaking and workshop opportunities to share your knowledge.

Any one of these may provide that all-important connection during a recession. They may direct you to job openings, introduce you to a new industry, and are good for some sagacious advice.

Foster a side gig

Side gigs require you to develop and maintain skills separate from your main job. They help you network with professionals outside your circle. And they increase your professional value.

Most importantly, a side gig diversifies your revenue stream. In times of plenty, it can help you build up your emergency funds. If you lose your job in the next recession, it can help you weather the financial strain until you find another.

Your side gig may even direct you toward a new career path.

Have a plan

Perform a career review periodically to discern the health of your industry and the strength of your career within it. Some questions to ask:

  • Is my industry/career prosperous or stagnant?
  • Does my company make moves that suggest health and longevity?
  • What jobs remain in demand during a recession? Is mine one?
  • Have new opportunities arisen that I’m not taking advantage of?
  • If necessary, do I have the skills to shift into another industry?

Do your research. Learn what industries are projected to grow and which were devastated in the last recession. Through knowledge and self-reflection, you can develop a contingency plan and lay the groundwork now.

The next recession

The next recession is coming, but not everyone will be impacted in the same way. Some will be hit hard, others harder, and others will only experience it in the news cycle. Since no one can know with certainty which they’ll be, employ these six tips to recession-proof your career and grow your professional value. Just in case.

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