Careers advice: How to recession proof your career

27 May 2020

With the news this month that the UK economy is officially in recession after contracting during the first quarter, many of us will be concerned about its future impact on our jobs. Whilst predictions about the job market after lockdown are troubling enough to make even the hardiest person anxious, there are positive steps we can take to feel more in control of our careers and become more resilient to potential changes ahead.

Here are some actions you can take to increase your job security during these uncertain times: 

1. Show resilience

Employers will always value employees who are able to demonstrate soft skills, particularly resilience. Taking the initiative, and being adaptable and flexible in your approach is crucial at the moment. The new ‘normal’ now and for the near future means it’s important that you’re able to flex your approach to challenges and make the best of what’s happening. However, this also includes delivering on your existing goals: employers will want to retain people who solve their pain points by creating solutions and executing them.

2. Make time for innovative thinking

Not only will this allow you to stand out among colleagues but bringing fresh ideas to the table could help your organisation overcome complex obstacles going forward. When entire industries such as Travel and Aviation are seeing their business models crumble (for now at least), it’s time for some creative thinking. 

3. Keep up with business news to see who’s hiring

There are going to be more redundancies ahead for some but some companies will also be hiring and hiring does still happen in recessions, as we saw after 2008. Make sure you know which sectors are growing: Tech, E-commerce (and associated packaging and delivery companies), Pharma, Food retailing, Telecomms, Media and Home leisure. Explore openings for what you do or look at how your skills can be transferred to essential companies; companies needing temporary leaders and workers, forward-thinking companies that will build during the downturn, and companies hiring via LinkedIn and other online job boards. In addition, don't overlook downsizing companies as they sometimes hire specialists in small amounts at the same time as they're reducing overall headcount. 

4. Develop your personal brand

Think about your USP. For what expertise are you known? If it’s not what you want it to be, think about your online presence and how you can reshape it. Update your LinkedIn profile, join relevant discussion groups, comment on articles and post your own, and add these to your LinkedIn Profile.

Sign up for your own personal Zoom account and ‘virtually attend’ group social hours, professional association virtual meetups, and corporate and college alumni online get-togethers. In today’s climate, there's no easier way to build a network than taking advantage of the online conference call tools available to you. This way your network will be primed and ready if you need it. 

5. Keep networking

Regardless of whether or not you think you might be looking for a new role soon, networking is worth investing in during times of uncertainty. With many people working from home or on furlough, this could be the ideal time to check-in via email with professional contacts, or nurture new ones via LinkedIn. If people are isolating at home, they may be more likely to welcome the chance to talk so  do reach out to former colleagues,  set up virtual coffee chats, ask them about the current challenges their sector is facing and what the consequences of COVID 19 might be for their company, and sign up to professional development webinars to keep connected with others.

6. Learn a new skill that will benefit you/ your future career

Even before the pandemic, the world of work was changing so quickly it could be hard to keep up. Now’s the opportunity to focus on skills you might need but haven’t developed yet, as they’ll make you more flexible and adaptable. WBS are running free webinars on a myriad of business topics, and many of the free courses on Future Learn and Coursera take only a few hours a week over a four to six week period. 

7. Repurpose your skills if you're unable to work in your current industry sector

You don’t have to join a big accountancy firm or bank to work in finance: every sector needs accountants. Think about how you can leverage your skills and experience in different industries that are proactively hiring.

8. Show empathy

At the moment, many are struggling with the consequences of the pandemic, prolonged period of lockdown and uncertainties ahead. Whilst business is in flux during the pandemic, soft skills such as empathy are still important – by being sensitive, kind and thoughtful to the difficulties your network, manager, and colleagues are facing, you’ll be seen as a resilient and supportive individual who can deal with adversity.

If you are a WBS alumni and you need further help, our comprehensive and free online Career Management Module may be useful. You can also email the team at alumnicareers@wbs.ac.uk. 

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