Sometimes it feels like there’s always the threat of a recession looming on the horizon and that the media is forever warning of market crashes and huge economic downturns.
As of July 2022, TD Securities predicts that the odds of the U.S. economy falling into recession in the next 18 months are greater than 50%, citing rising gas prices, “a hawkish Federal Reserve,” and a generally slowing economy as risk factors (via CNBC).
Of course, predicting the future is notoriously tricky, and everything might be just fine. But the possibility of losing one’s job and being sent into an economic spiral is enough to stress anyone out. Are there ways to avoid this? Can you recession-proof your career? There are no guarantees, but you can undoubtedly do certain things to increase your chances of remaining employed and solvent during difficult times.
Here are five ways to recession-proof your career
Build a strong network
The size and strength of your network will make a big difference to your career and your future prospects. Like everything in life, achieving career success and finding work is easier with the involvement of other people. Networking and making new connections inside and outside your industry is one of the top ways of recession-proofing your career.
Growing your network is a way to make new friends, gain new perspectives, and access further learning opportunities and job prospects. When a recession hits, all of these things will help see you through, and having supportive friends will make it better than going it alone.
As you make new connections and lose touch with old ones, your network will change over time, and your relationships will grow and evolve. Don’t stick to your specific job or industry. Engineers don’t only know other engineers, and people in the ad industry don’t only know other people in the ad industry. We all know people who do different jobs from us and work in other sectors. You never know who knows who.
Always meet new people, anywhere and everywhere, and don’t treat people like they’re just a means to an end. Stay connected and consistently maintain contact rather than only reaching out when you need something. You don’t want to be regarded as an opportunist. People can see through it when you do this, and they don’t appreciate feeling used. Make real friends and genuine connections whenever possible, and you will all get more out of your relationships.
You never have enough skills and can always use more. The employment landscape is constantly changing. These days, it's happening at an accelerated pace, thanks to the disruption of the last two years, technological development, and the significant shift toward remote and hybrid workforces, among other things.
The demand for particular hard and soft skills has changed, with many becoming more sought after, like communication, time management, and problem-solving skills. Learning new tech skills is also always a good idea to keep up with the pace of change.
If we hit a recession, the more skills you have relevant to your market, the better off you will be. Take a look at some jobs you might want and might be able to do that are extensions of your current job or which you aspire to have. Look at the skills for those jobs and consider acquiring them. Continue to do this regularly, as there is no end in sight to the need to continue developing your skills. Once is not going to be enough. It’s an ongoing thing.
Always be learning
Similarly, a willingness to keep learning, no matter your age, will serve you well in all areas of your life, particularly your career. The best ways to learn include reading, consuming media of interest, and listening to people. Be interested in the world around you and what people have to offer.
Learning isn’t just about skills. It’s about knowing what is happening in the world, understanding your job market and industry, and learning about other people and societies.
A broad range of knowledge will help you know where you want to go in life and see the opportunities available to you. It enables you to gain new perspectives and come up with creative solutions. In a recession, you might lose a job and face stiff competition for new ones. Continuously gaining different perspectives and new knowledge will help you see new solutions and develop new ideas.
Diversify income streams
There was a time when many people worked for the same company for a few decades, retired, and went on to collect pensions. Those days are pretty much gone for most industries. There are exceptions, but for the most part, there is little job security, and companies will let you go without notice. “Last in, first out” at many organizations means that the most recent person to be hired will be the first to be fired, meaning that in an uncertain climate, even if you manage to find a new job after being let go from an old one, you’re still vulnerable. This uncertainty contributes to stress and takes its toll on people, which is why putting all your eggs in one basket no longer makes sense.
Diversifying your revenue streams will help protect you. You might have two part-time jobs or a full-time job and a side hustle, like driving, an Etsy shop, or some other side business. If you lose one income source, you still have the other.
Nowadays, it can make sense to think of yourself as a business rather than an individual looking for a job. A company would not want to sell its products and services to just one customer because if they lose that customer, they have nothing. Nor should you necessarily want to work for just one company.
Five recession-proof jobs
While there are no entirely recession-proof jobs, some are less vulnerable to economic downturns than others. Here are five of them.
Physicians, nurses, personal support workers, pharmacists…all of these jobs will always be in demand regardless of what happens in the economy. They are not all created equal in terms of pay, benefits, and other factors, but they will always be needed.
Government positions are well paid, and according to GoBankingRates.com, these positions appear to be better protected from recessions than jobs in other industries. Workers in this field include legislators, police officers, transportation officials, firefighters, and many more.
People will always have to do their taxes and look for financial help for themselves and their businesses. Financial services jobs include accountants and auditors, budget analysts, and insurance underwriters.
Professional and business services
This one is a bit vague because the definition of professional services is a business, department, or individual who provides a service or expertise rather than a manufactured product. So….almost any job, really. That said, we’re including it because, according to GoBankingRates, the unemployment rate for workers in the professional and business services sector is very low and projected to remain so even during a recession.
The nondurable-goods manufacturing sector is projected to fare better than other industries in a recession. Jobs include sales representatives, shipping and receiving, manufacturing, and more.