Five (Truly) Simple Ways To Recession-Proof Your Career

Christel Deskins

Manager of Sourcing & Talent Strategy in Advanced RPO. getty Let’s face it. Most of us, myself included, have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve worried about our health and the loss of our “normal” lives. We’ve also worried about our livelihood and the fear of becoming unemployed. Thankfully, […]

Manager of Sourcing & Talent Strategy in Advanced RPO.

Let’s face it. Most of us, myself included, have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve worried about our health and the loss of our “normal” lives. We’ve also worried about our livelihood and the fear of becoming unemployed.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to future-proof your career. I’ve been a part of the workforce through periods of economic growth and difficult downturns alike, and I’ve learned a few lessons along the way that have helped me to create a resilient career. 

What To Do During An Economic Upswing

Weathering a recession has just as much to do with what you’ve done ahead of time to prepare. Think of these tips as taking out an insurance policy on the future of your career. 

1. Diversify your skill set. 

Transferable skills that cross the boundaries between industries, companies and roles are important. Examples might be developing your leadership potential or learning how to use a particular software program. Sometimes the opportunity to develop these skills already exists. You can simply raise your hand to join a special task force at work or be an early adopter of something new your team is trying out. 

Other times, you’ll need to go through more formal channels to get these skills. Perhaps it’s taking a course on your own or joining a local mentoring program to talk about your career goals with a more experienced peer. If you don’t know where to start, think about what your next role might be, and search job postings to better understand the specific skills you need.

2. Network in new ways.

When the tech bubble burst in 2000, many employees of technology companies, including those who didn’t work in tech per se, such as finance, marketing and HR professionals, found themselves out of a job. 

For those who singularly aligned themselves with others in the technology industry, this event was a career death sentence. But those who had networked more broadly — with others in their field of work or geographic market or even fellow university alumni — landed on their feet. 

Aside from that, think about exploring your passion as a plan B. For instance, I have a personal training certification and am actively building my network there as well. Knowing that you have additional career options, whether to earn an income during employment gaps or to pursue full time, can give you peace of mind. 

What To Do During A Recession

The tips mentioned above will help put you in a good position to find new employment should you have to, but the best-case scenario is actually to keep your job in the first place. So, what are the best ways to do so?

3. Focus on what you can control. 

You have full control over your reaction to the situation. Are you taking care of your mental health to safeguard your mindset, or are you letting everything spiral? Are you coming to work with a positive attitude, or are you bringing down others around you? 

A poor attitude and work ethic stand out like a sore thumb in times of crisis. It’s up to you if you’re remembered for helping your company and colleagues get through tough times or as an emotional drain on your team. Rising to the occasion will help you get noticed — and likely help you keep your job. 

Similarly, this extends to how much energy you give things in your life during times of crisis. If you are let go or your company is forced to close, focus on your plan B versus dwelling on what happened. Put all of your energy in the direction of what’s next, not what you’re leaving behind.

4. Embrace change. 

Erase “that’s not my job” from your vocabulary. When a recession hits, you’ll likely have to take on additional work or work in ways outside of your norm. During the recession in 2008, I was able to prove my value by showing my versatility and being a team player. One day I was managing a team of 30 people, and the next day I was recruiting to fill positions at an ice cream plant.  

I was willing to jump in, roll up my sleeves and take on a recruiter role in a new-to-me industry. Being able to do so — without an ego — likely saved my job. It’s important to focus on how you can deliver the most value to your company during a recession, not what is and isn’t your job. 

5. Be visible.

I’m not saying to be overly aggressive and vocal about the great work you do to anyone who will listen. However, we don’t know what we don’t know. If you work in a silo at your organization and rarely interact with others, they won’t understand your value — or what value you could provide to them. 

Focus on how the work you do impacts others on your team and beyond. Get to know more about your overall department and business operations, and then actively look for ways to contribute, cross-company, to raise your profile and make both personal and professional connections. 

Each of these five tips is relatively simple on its own, but together they can have a significant impact on your career no matter what type of business climate exists.


Forbes Human Resources Council is an invitation-only organization for HR executives across all industries. Do I qualify?


Next Post

Venezuela destroys suspected drug trafficking jet with 'American branding'

A private jet “with North American branding” that entered Venezuelan air space illegally has been destroyed by the country’s armed forces, the Minister for Interior Affairs and Justice confirmed. During a media conference that was shared on social media, Néstor Reverol indicated that the dual-engine plane was a Gulfstream III […]