Ten Tips to Help Recession-Proof Your Career

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: January 18, 2012

In October 2008, the U. S. Labor Department reported the tenth straight month of job losses. With the current economic situation, it can be anticipated that this trend will continue. Most industries are expected to suffer although jobs in security, health care, the environmental sector, energy and education are expected to fare somewhat better.

So how do you manage your career through an economic crisis? The best thing to do in uncertain times is to prepare yourself for the worst case scenario.

Stay where you are – if you can

During a recession, even if you are unhappy with your current employment situation, it is best to stay in your current job until the market picks up. In a tenuous job market, leaving an employer without a back-up plan is extremely risky. As long as your current situation isn't causing you mental anguish or affecting you physically, it is best to stay where you are and weather the storm.

Keep your skills current

Take classes or join trade organizations in an effort to show that your skills are up-to-date. Inquire if there is some additional training your boss would like you to take. If you don't have cash to pay for additional training, consider unpaid internships or do volunteer work for a nonprofit to gain valuable skills and potential job contacts for future employment possibilities.

Don't pull a vanishing act

Now is the time to be visible. Shelve the plans for an extended vacation. Strolling in at ten o'clock in the morning or leaving early is not going to cut it if your employer is faced with how to reduce their workforce. Employees that show up, ready to work, with a positive attitude are likely to be asked to stick around.

Make yourself indispensible

Make sure that your boss is aware of recent contributions, but not in an obnoxious way. Be professional and make note of the fact that your contributions are above and beyond your current job responsibilities. If you can make a case that you are valuable to the company there is less of a chance you will be shown the door. Now is the time to volunteer for extra projects.

Keep your attitude in check

Attitude can be a real deal breaker right now. Nobody likes a whiner. An individual who clearly demonstrates dislike for his or her current job is more likely to be shown the door than someone with a positive attitude. So even if you are unhappy where you are, try to keep smiling.

Start networking now

Don't wait until you are on the unemployment line to start getting in touch with former bosses and colleagues. Making those connections now can ease the transition to a new opportunity should you lose your current position.

Update your resume

Keep your resume up-to-date and even consider having it written by an expert to give you that extra edge. You may also want to contact a good career counselor to help guide you in a job search. Think about looking for a position such as the one you have in a different, perhaps more robust industry right now such as healthcare, etc. Target certain companies and search their current job postings. It is likely that not all of the positions they have available have been advertised.

Finish your degree

If you have course work to finish in order to complete a degree, now is a good time to finish it. You may also want to consider certificate programs or an online degree program that can be finished more quickly than a full degree program and that offer you additional expertise to include on your resume. Not to mention that it is far less expensive than launching into a full degree program that you may not have the time or money to complete.

Broaden, rather than deepen your skills

While it is human nature to want to be really good at one thing, this can actually work against you. Employees that are versatile and have a broader scope of knowledge and skills are viewed to be more valuable. Consult job search websites and research jobs that interest you paying close attention to the skills that are required to fill that type of job. Look into getting training in order to fill that type of position.

Consider learning a trade or specific skills

Certain blue collar work that requires specific training and licensure such as plumbing may be easier to find than non-specific, office oriented white collar jobs. Accountants of all levels are generally in demand. Individuals with this type of specific training can often find project work as they search for a more permanent position with an organization.