How to Prepare Your Career for the Possible Recession

As a society, we seem destined to live through the simplicity and emotional anchoring of titles. From the prosperity of labor roles to the future of daily life, titles are what we understand. The efficiency of understanding what someone means through the lesser of words, the needlessness of further explanation. The CEO is in charge and powerful. A drought is uncontrollable and bad. A recession is frightening and finance-altering. We live for the quickness of connotations and necessity.

Throughout the last year, the term of possible recession has been tossed around, headlining countless news articles and think pieces. It’s on its way. It’s inevitable. And for those not of working age during the last major recession, it’s a term that strikes a chord of economic fear. The economy is on a downturn and our jobs and wallets are in danger.

If you witnessed the 2008 recession from a child’s eye (late Millennials and fresh Generation Zers), all you know is the worry it brings for your current career. It’s possible that with the decline will come a drastic climb in layoffs and turnover. In a way, you are correct. A decrease in an economy’s well-being does lead to a decrease in jobs.

So, how do you prepare? How do you make sure your career stays intact during the economic wave of an oncoming recession? How do you further establish your financial and professional integrity during the shaking tides of economic uncertainty? Is a leaking ship destined to sink?

Let’s discuss.

Is a Recession Likely?

Firstly, something to note. At Tier2Tek Staffing, we do not consider ourselves to be economists. In no way will our opinion stifle the potential of experts. While we understand the nature of the labor market due to being in it for over two decades, we cannot outright make presumptions about the country’s future. Therefore, we cannot say whether we believe a recession is likely.

Ultimately, economists have all but written the certainty of a recession in pen. They’ve currently penciled in the possibility, claiming it’s well on its way, something unheard of in prior situations of the same nature.

“Usually recessions sneak up on us,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, told CNBC. “CEOs never talk about recessions. Now it seems CEOs are falling over themselves to say we’re falling into a recession… Every person on TV says recession. Every economist says recession. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The Federal Reserve has been hiking interest rates since March of last year to attempt to slow down the economy. Ironically, the economy had already been slowing on the heels of a return from the 2020 pandemic. Therefore, all analytics and theorists are predicting that a classic recession is going to happen, regardless of what actions come next.

When economic activity lowers, production is less needed and more expensive. Therefore, companies cut labor. It’s a simple cause-and-effect scenario.

While some predict that we can hold off a recession, it’s important to note that many believed the same before the Great Recession in 2008. Though a significant decline in GDP is the main sign of a recession, labor rates dropping often come first. This same scenario happened at the end of 2007 when then-President George W. Bush stated he wasn’t concerned.

Long story short: a recession is likely. Therefore, you should prepare your career to match.

What’s the Current State of the Job Market?

As stated, the state of the labor market can tell a lot about the likelihood of an oncoming recession. Strangely, the state of the job market is healthy and strong. How strong, is the million-dollar question.

Just over the past month, we have written about two corresponding events in the current market. At the beginning of January, the U.S. added over 223,000 new jobs to the market.

Then, a few weeks later, we reported that Google had laid off over 12,000 employees. This also included major layoffs at Amazon, Salesforce, and Microsoft, three other employment juggernauts.

In the article, we stated:

Alphabet grew its workforce by more than 50,000 employees over the past two years. Though the pandemic seemed to scorch through the economy, causing a chest-compressing spike in inflation and unemployment, tech industries saw drastic profit gain. People were in need of various tech services (for both entertainment and work). Therefore, tech saw no problem increasing their profit margins.

With a colossal increase in revenue, companies were scrambling to hire great talent. More powerful companies won the race, being able to offer employees more benefits and higher salaries. This caused companies to hire too many workers. Now, they are feeling the repercussions of the influx and are firing to get back under caps…

A CNBC report stated that the tech industry lost 7.4 trillion dollars over the last year. Out of panic, a few companies began making cuts. Plenty followed in line. When highly influential and popular companies began making moves, others began to follow, creating the concept of layoff contagion (or social contagion). Mass hysteria. Moves based upon the idea of what should be done.

The question becomes that of correlation. Are the widespread layoffs in the tech industry a sign of a recession, or are they just a coincidence?

The answer is a gray area.

Demand has lowered, therefore jobs have lowered, but unemployment still remains at a low. While the 223,000 new jobs don’t reach the same heights as the 400,000-a-month average last year, it’s still more than it should be in the middle of the recession.

Strangely, it’s as if labor is sitting directly in the eye of the economic storm. The rest of the economy shows recession, but labor is slowly dwindling its way there. This is one of the main factors causing some to disagree with the recession theories.

How Does This Affect Me?

We understand that this has become a long and drawn-out thought. Hear us out.

While the article entitles tips to help you remain employed during a recession, it may be useful even if the economy doesn’t hit the aforementioned low. Even if we don’t officially hit a recession, the labor market is going to cool going forward. It’s still going to be difficult to find and maintain a good job during such a strange time.

It’s almost as if a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So, regardless of if things hit a low, you should still follow the upcoming tips to make sure that your career withstands the changing tides. A recession will see the loss of an outrageous amount of jobs (2.6 million in 2008 alone). Therefore, prepare for the worst as an employee.

How to Prepare Yourself and Your Career

Let’s finally get around to the point. Here are tips to help maintain your career during a recession or labor decline.

Ultimately, you do not want to lose your job in any situation. It’s possible you won’t, regardless of the times. Therefore, this list acts as both preventative and responsive. We will speak as if the employee has not lost their job, but every tip ultimately goes toward someone that has, too.

1. Do What’s In Your Control

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

— Jimmy Dean, American Singer and Businessman

At the end of the day, you are not going to change the trajectory of the economy by worrying about it. If that was the case, I would be a superhero.

We’ve all found ourselves desperately obsessing over possibilities. It seems to be a normal function of human psychology. And though we at Tier2Tek Staffing don’t claim to be life coaches, we believe you should hear it every time you get a chance.

You can’t control things out of your hands.

At the end of the day, you can only do what’s in your grasp as a professional. The rest of this list will involve tips for you as a worker and human. You can bolster your skills and build upon your resume, but you cannot control what’s going to happen in your company, country, or world. You can only do what you can do. If your large company decides to make layoffs, you have no say. You can only make sure that you are a desirable employee and do the best job possible.

Do what’s best for you.

At some point, you can only worry about yourself and your family. What your current or former job does is not within your control (unless you run a company or are high up. That’s an entirely different story).

2. Keep Track of Your Network

We’re done waxing philosophic (for now).

The most important part of being a professional in your field is maintaining a strong network. Now is the time to do so.

If you have been in the industry for a while, you should have a plethora of contacts at different businesses in the field. Make sure you have their information on file and remember who they are. You may need to reach out to them if you end up looking for open positions or job leads. They should know who you are and know how great you are as a worker.

Keep track of your entire network. List or create a file of every person you know in the industry that would possibly help you, work as a reference, or back up your ability. As stated, make sure you have their contact information. Reach out to them on sites like LinkedIn or other social media if you haven’t. Keep them in your circle. You may need their help if things turn for the worse.

If you only have connections at the company you just worked at, you may find yourself at a bit of a loss. Check out public events in your industry. If possible, attend them and make new connections outside of your previous work bubble.

We’ve all heard “it’s all about who you know.”

In a way, this thought process is true. Make sure you know plenty of people in the industry.

3. Polish Your Resume and Profiles

When you updated your resume, it doesn’t mean you have to be searching for a new job. You can update your resume in your free time and when you are happily employed. It’s always good to have your information correct and ready to go if things get bad.

While the concept of a resume is simple, it’s anything but in practice. After all, it’s one tiny document that has to sell you to a potential employer or staffing agency. No pressure. If you have been out of the job hunt for a while, making sure to get your resume in present order is crucial.

Your resume is your elevator pitch. You’re trying to convince a company that you’re the next summer blockbuster. You have to be efficient and confident, well-written and impressive (unlike my analogy). Don’t worry, though. With enough practice, you’ll be cranking out job-winning resumes like it is, in fact, your job.

We have a ton of articles regarding how to build a job-winning resume. We will link the two best here:

36 Resume Tips to Get You Hired
Things to Avoid on Your Resume – Ultimate Guide for 2023

Make sure that your resume is in great condition and is ready to go if you lose your job (or need a new one). It’s just one less thing to slow you down if you have to get back into the job search.

4. Learn New Skills or Certifications

Do you feel like you got your current job through luck, perseverance, or connections? Worried that you might not be able to score the same position or pay if you were to lose your current one?

You should bolster your resume in areas other than work experience to help secure jobs in the future (whether at your current level or above your current pay grade). When the recession hits, job markets are going to become extremely competitive. Though you can’t add to your experience section without a current gig, you can add to your skills without a paying job.

Education and certifications are crucial for an eye-catching resume and can help you secure jobs quickly, especially if you don’t have prior work experience. Fortunately, gaining these skills isn’t as hard as it used to be. We live in the internet era, baby. Get your mobile education on!

Countless programs (especially certifications) offer online programs. Furthermore, sites like Skillshare can also help you increase your resume’s skills section with ease. If you can’t find a job, look into what qualifications job posts ask for and find a way to gain them.

Furthermore, look into what certifications are available for your career path. Maybe you haven’t had time to get a certification that could help you get a salary bump. Now would be the time.

This tip also goes for schooling. If it’s time to get a higher or extra degree to put you leaps and bounds above other job applicants, do so. At the end of the day, you want to make sure you have the strongest possible resume when job races begin.

5. Budget Yourself

If you are unemployed or are worried about becoming unemployed during a recession, you need to keep an eye on your current balances. Overall, if you lack income, you need to stretch your money as far as you can to cover the parachuting into a new job. If you think you are going to hit this process eventually, you want to have a lump sum of cash saved for the worst.

We aren’t going to even begin to attempt a budget plan (or tell you how to do so), but we must stress the importance of creating a budget for both now (as employed) and when you become unemployed.

If you work at a large company, you are likely to get a severance package when you are let go. If you become unemployed, you can also file for unemployment with your state. Luckily, there are various aspects and tools in place to help you in the worst scenarios.

Find out and record all of your options and scenarios. Create a budget or potential budget if you become unemployed. Once again, you are looking to be prepared for the worst. See what you will need and how you will survive going forward.

This budgeting will also help you decide the intensity of your job search and your salary needs in the future. It may make you decide to pick up a side gig in the meantime (we’ll get to that).

6. Rethink Your Trajectory

Are you happy in your current field? Do you want to try something else? Will your location or industry hamper your job possibilities during a recession?

Danger and crisis are often the times in which we make the most important decisions. This goes for your career path, too. Not that we would ever wish a forced hand upon you, but moments of existentialism can help you make significant changes.

If you lose your job (or think you may), take a little time to ponder your next step. Maybe you want to go back to school, as we noted. Maybe you want to strive for a different industry or position in your current field. You may want to apply for higher positions or lower positions depending on your happiness.

It can be hard to make life-altering decisions in times of economic crisis, but it may be necessary.

Location is another example. You may need to move to help continue your career.

Let us use journalism as an example. Breaking into the journalism field in, let’s say, New York City can be nearly impossible. There are thousands of more-experienced candidates vetting for the same jobs. Sometimes you need to move on and take your lumps before you can move up to the big jobs in big cities.

Henceforth, expand your job search to other areas. Yes, it may be nearly impossible to get a starting journalism job in New York City, but what about a smaller town? It’s a lot easier to get entry-level positions in smaller towns. 

These significant changes need to be thought about before the time comes.

7. Take Up a Side Gig

If your job search becomes long and tedious, you need to start thinking about how to make money in the meantime. If you are currently employed but want to build up your savings for potential unemployment, you need to find an extra way to make cash. Luckily, we live in a world where side gigs are not only possible, they’re extremely flexible.

Just last year we wrote an article detailing the 16 best side gigs available right now.
Check it out.

Simply put, having a side job can allow you to create increased income while still searching for a long-term job (or remaining at your current job). It can also help you bolster your career. Remember what we said about building your resume through certifications and experience? Side gigs can help with that.

For example, if you are a designer and are looking for a permanent position at a company, you can do freelance work on the side. This work will keep you paid and help build your portfolio. It’s a win-win.

8. Stay Strong and Well

A 2012 study by the American Psychology Association found that long-term unemployment can be detrimental to one’s mental health. If you have been unemployed for some time, take a deep breath. Look in the mirror or talk to a friend. Are you okay?

On the other hand, being employed but worrying about an impending recession can break a levy on stress and anxiety.

There is a concept in psychology called catastrophizing. Catastrophizing is when you assume the worse possible outcome will happen. This thought process can lead to a plethora of mental health pitfalls like anxiety and depression. It’s an understandable result of stress, but it isn’t good for you.

If you are having a hard time mentally during your job search, find a low-cost therapist or engage in new hobbies. Stay positive. You’ve got this.

The entire job market is going through the same situations as you. You are not alone. As an economy, we survived the Great Recession. We will survive this, too.

Tier2Tek Staffing Is Here for You

Regardless of the state of the labor market, businesses will always be hiring (somewhere). Consequently, businesses will always be working with staffing and recruiting agencies to help find the best employees efficiently.

Working with a staffing agency (like Tier2Tek) as an employee can help you find a job efficiently. Luckily, it’s a cost-free option to get quick connections to a plethora of jobs. They can give you insight into what is and isn’t working on your applications and what skills you should improve.

National staffing agencies (like ours) have connections within all industries. You never know what we may be able to link you with. It’s worth a shot. We have connections with businesses, agencies, and universities nationwide.

A common misconception is that staffing agencies only fill temporary jobs. This claim isn’t true. Staffing agencies can find you full-time jobs as well.

Contact us for a quick greeting. We will see how we can help and work to get you back on the job hunt.