5 Ways to Recession-Proof Your Career

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.”


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