5 Ways to Recession-Proof Your Career

35 Comments

We could already be suffering a recession in the U.S., and the tech industry is not immune, as potential Yahoo! layoffs show. What should you be doing now to protect yourself?

Keep building that online persona. Share who you are and what you’re about online — through a blog or other means. Raising your professional profile online is one of the best ways to attract new job and business opportunities your way. Don’t just create an online version of a resume; get active and connected online.

Create additional income streams, even if you are an employee. Or perhaps especially if you are an employee — because your salary is vulnerable to disappearing all at once, while freelancers and business owners usually have multiple clients.

How can you create additional streams of income? Find a side job as a freelancer (be careful not to break any of your employer’s noncompete policies by doing so), start an ad-supported blog, sell products online, or offer consulting services in your field of expertise. While none of these things will — at least initially — make enough money to replace a full-time-with-bennies job, they can cushion the pain of income loss while teaching you new skills and growing your professional network.

Stay aware of what the market wants. Even during a recession, jobs go begging when employers can’t find people with the right skills. Even if you’re not looking for a job or more contract work right now, subscribe to Craigslist job listing feeds using searches that match what kind of positions might interest you. You’ll keep yourself informed as to what skills you might need to add to your arsenal, what companies are hiring in your area, and whether hires in your field are trending up or down.

Invest in human capital. In other words, beef up your skills. You don’t have to spend money on classes to do so, though that might be the easiest way to learn the basics of something unfamiliar to you. You can spend your time: find an unpaid internship with training as your compensation, do volunteer work for a nonprofit, get involved in an open source effort, or start your own just-for-learning-purposes project.

Create social capital too. If you do lose your job or a major client, your next one may very well come through your online network of friends and associates. Your online social network can not only help find new opportunities just when you need them, it can also provide emotional support when you go through tough times. Not sure exactly how to go about creating social capital? Here are some tips for networking like a human.

For more tips on recession-proofing your career, see Robert Scoble’s article from December “Surviving the 2008 recession” and Penelope Trunk’s article posted today “Maybe there will be a recession. Here’s what to do just in case.”

35 Comments

Eric Bruntmyer

I think you should become more connected in your area…location. I’ve tried to help friends in my area get jobs and I set up a website to help them. It is rockthesandman.com

Hives Remedy Guru

What has helped us the most with our biz. in this recession is multi biz. lines. At first it is tough to keep all the balls juggling but right now it has been our savior.

Maria Sinclair

This is my suggestion [as a small business owner with 5 staff]:

1. Cut back on all current expenses to the bare minimum but don’t take out anything that you must retain to service your existing level of cash customers – forget about new customers.

2. Focus on the customers who will be around in the future.

3. For the expenses you cannot cut back – join a barter exchange or offset trade exchange. Work out what your fixed expenses are which remain and see if you can barter for them. I was reading an email from a company called Ormita Commerce Network [?] recently and it seemed to click to me that they could be right – if I can swap $1000 worth of new sales for $1000 worth of existing expenses I already pay cash for then I will be in a better position [I will have saved myself $1000 cash right??? depending on the cost it takes me to fulfil the $1000 in new sales.. so it could be $1000 savings if its spare time or it may be $500 savings if I sell a real product]. Either way I save money. Their website is http://www.ormita.com. I looked at it and was impressed. When I rang they said they havent launched yet though so I am .. waiting.. patiently.. until that happens. In the interim I have started to use Craigslist and have done the occasional barter deal but I like hte idea of a more formalised method first.

Surviving A Recession

You have made some really great points here. I think that anyone that is actively leveraging the Internet will be much more likely to survive and prosper during a recession than those that do not. The opportunities available from leveraging the Internet are limited only by your imagination. For me, points one and five are the most important. The more people you know and work with the better off you will be.

Pamela Rosen

As someone who is doing exactly this, I can tell you that this article is right on the money. I was out of work for seven months two years ago. I decided that I was in marketing, so I should conduct my job search like a marketing campaign. I designed a website to promote myself, I put myself all over Facebook and LinkedIn, connected them, promoted these links in all my emails, and started a blog about professional contract workers (www.contractrangers.com/rangerblog/). Now that my current contract is coming to an end, these are really starting to pay off. The phone is ringing off the hook.

Loosing my Job

Some good advice there, much appreciated. I think creating additional income streams is a very important one on your list, something people could forget.

Clark

You advice is sound.

Eons ago my studio teacher used to impress upon us the need to diversify your sources of income. He taught us to create a pie chart and divide it with various different jobs/activities. The object being not to rely on any one source of income and have the ability to focus on one piece of the pie when another is suffering.

Whether you work for the government or are a freelancer it’s a good habit to get into.

Stephanie

My husband just got laid off today. I’m working on getting him to look at improving his career, not just sticking to the same industry, which his father is telling him to do. I don’t think the quick and easy job is the right solution when it’s a field highly subject to recession (home decor).

But we are doing a lot of networking and seeing what can be found job-wise.

jay

Don’t forget “Find a nice paying government job”. Not everyone is subject to recession necessarily. Many dismiss working for the government because of the “low pay” which is often wrong or mis-leading. Spend a couple of months looking for a new gig, and working for the Man doesn’t look so bad. Also, government jobs have often been viewed in the past as “behind the curve” but that is not true either. Where I am, we are early adopters and constantly stride to stay ahead of the curve. It’s not your father’s government anymore.

leeeby

Very well said. All of this information is important if you want to achieve any level of success. You must always be growing your network. If it is online or local doesn’t matter.

clopinettes

All good points. Especially that of building up the online persona – I was surprised, this week, to be asked to write a piece for an Italian magazine. And it was based entirely on what they found and saw on one of the blogs I maintain.

Ultimately – if you work hard at it, the rewards are usually there. I said… hopefully!

linkerjpatrick

I or rather the position I have held in companies have been the subject of what I would classify as “mini” or “in-house” recessions. If anything my company had it’s “recession” last year but so far this year we are making greater strides and advancements in the first half of January than we did at least in the last quarter of last year.

I’m currently a self-employed small business owner and I have pretty much been adhering the advice of the points above. We gotten either clients or made significant networking contacts through online social networking and being self-employed I am no longer bound to the environment of one employer but am diversifying my talents among many clients which for all practical purposes is like working for many employers. In fact one of my past employers is now a client. I don’t work for them 40 hours a week but they still need the skills of me or my company.

while the economy may take a downturn in some places their is plenty of room for innovation and entrepreneurs in such a climate.

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