No matter how hard you try, sometimes you simply can’t avoid the worst happening. The economy is not yours to control, and as people found back in 2008, when it takes a sharp downward turn, it can take you with it.
Luckily, depressions aren’t very common. As these are the types of economic downturn that can destroy markets and ruin lives, that’s a good thing. Recessions, on the other hand, are more frequent, though less disastrous. Still, a recession can significantly impact the market, causing millions of people to lose their jobs and seek government aid. Though it is possible to climb back on the horse when this happens, some people never recover.
Obviously, you want to avoid this happening at all costs. That’s where strategies for recession-proofing your career come in. Here are 15 ways to make yourself less susceptible to economic downturns now and in future.
#1 Brand Yourself Well
People trust brands, plain and simple. Equally simple: People never stop paying for goods and services entirely. That means that in a recession, those with the best brands will be likeliest to keep their businesses afloat, so you want to brand yourself well. Keep in mind that a brand is more than the right colors and logo; it means sending the right message, keeping your photography on point, talking to your clients and customers the way they want to be talked to, and generally being recognizable and trustworthy in all that you do.
#2 Create Multiple Income Streams
Today, it’s easier than ever to create multiple income streams. You can sell digital products, hand-make artisanal items to augment your day job earnings, or teach online courses to students or other professionals. Cultivating an additional income stream is always a good idea, and it’s never too soon to start.
#3 Network Your Tail Off
One of the best ways to recession-proof yourself is to know a lot of people. That way, if you get laid off or your company goes under, you have a lot of people to whom you can turn in your job search. Even if you don’t lose your job, glad-handing now can lead to better opportunities later, and keep you from getting stymied in one position for too long – due either to a recession that’s limiting jobs, or to other factors.
#4 Become a Thought Leader
Thought leaders are all around us. Some of your favorite bloggers or podcasters probably qualify in this category, for instance, as do the authors of your most beloved nonfiction books. It’s easier than it looks for you to become a thought leader too, and it can seriously protect you against economic downturns.
Becoming a thought leader is no more or less complicated than specializing in a very, very narrow career category. Think social media marketing for contractors, or financial planning for teachers. If you can show you know a lot about your career through published articles, a blog or some other form of media, you will never lack for employment.
#5 Consider a Switch to a Growing Industry
The recession tends to take out certain markets in a single blow. Luxury items sell less, technology companies typically suffer and real estate often sees a sharp downturn. If you’ve been interested in a different career for a while, you should consider making a move while the economy is still strong. Professional services that are always needed include tax preparation, financial planning, copywriting or the medical industry, among others.
#6 Keep Licenses and Certifications Current
You never know when the economy will enter a recession and your old skills will come into demand. If you have licenses or certifications, don’t let them lapse, even if you aren’t actively using them right now. Most require relatively affordable and pretty minimal continuing education hours, and the expense of time and money will pay itself back a hundredfold if they get you a job during tough economic times.
#7 Make Friends with a Recruiter
Recruiters have their fingers on the pulse of their industries at all times. Making friends with a recruiter means having someone in your pocket who always knows what’s happening in your sector, can help you gain the right skills, and can make meaningful introductions to employers or peers who might be able to get you a job.
#8 Spend Carefully
Not all strategies for recession-proofing yourself require career development. Sometimes, you can protect yourself effectively simply by knowing what you can afford … and then sticking to it. Sites like Mint.com help you track your finances down to the last penny, so you can always know where you’re at with your personal spending. Keep track of your student loans, pay your bills on time and stick to your budgets, and you’re much less likely to take a nosedive during a recession.
#9 Keep Your Credit High
One of the biggest impacts a recession can have is on those seeking credit. In a recession, banks and lending institutions grow extremely wary and are far less likely to hand out loans. If you’re trying to buy a house or go to school, that’s bad news for you. You can help prevent this by keeping your credit high, avoiding missed payments, staying on top of your loans, and paying steadily on small, manageable credit accounts.
#10 Invest Wisely
This might mean in the stock market, and it might mean in your career. Whatever you decide to invest in, take the long view. If you have money to put away, make sure it’s diversified. Unless you’re an expert trader, don’t sink your money into a single source. As for your career, invest in good education. You can also invest by paying your dues at a company you don’t necessarily want to work for long-term, or by taking a position that isn’t your dream. Putting in the time can lead to massive rewards later.
#11 Put Something Under the Mattress
Last but not least, it’s wise to set aside funds in the event that none of the above strategies work. While the mattress trick was more appropriate to the Great Depression than to the 21st century, the basic idea is the same: Put your money somewhere safe, where changing markets aren’t likely to affect it. That could mean a large bank, a low-risk certificate of deposit or a checking account you don’t touch except in specific circumstances.
Of course, if the apocalypse occurs, there’s not much you can do to keep your day job. But in all other cases, these are some pretty tried-and-true strategies to keep you armored against the event of a recession, so try them today.
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