We’ve all seen the headlines: record inflation, rising interest rates, tumbling stocks, and looming recession. With talk of hiring freezes and layoffs, employees are anxious about what could happen to their careers in this troubled economy.
The concerns are justified. Big companies like Meta, Salesforce, and Netflix have announced hiring freezes this year.
More than 142,000 jobs have been lost in the tech sector alone in 2022.
Nearly 87% of managers say they would “likely” have to lay off employees during the recession.
A LinkedIn poll found that more than 50% of employees are “worried” or “very worried” about their careers due to the ongoing economic downturn.
The economic situation and layoff decisions are beyond your control, but you can take these proactive steps right now to secure and advance your career in this tumultuous time.
Start showing up
“Sometimes the most important thing you can do is just show up.”
Brené Brown has said this more than once, and she‘s right. Show up and do the work.
It’s easy to get distracted in challenging situations. But don’t let that get the better of you! You can take baby steps to make your influence known.
Attend all formal and informal meetings, even the ones you used to miss. Participate in all company events. Leaders always remember enthusiastic participants.
Be present and visible. Visibility makes you a valued team member at your company. Talk to your colleagues and help them solve some of their problems, small or big. Even small contributions matter. Over time, higher-ups will notice.
Reveal your value
Adding more value to the organization is one of the most reliable ways to secure and advance your career.
Connect your daily tasks to how they’re addressing your company’s priorities. Ask yourself, “What more can I do to achieve the team and company’s goals? Discover unfinished projects and volunteer to take them on. Inquire about new responsibilities. You’ll not only be one who gets their work done, but also the one who takes the initiative for more.
This motivated, self-starter attitude goes a long way to prove your ability to manage more responsibility should the workforce shrink. It’s not always the case that your immediate manager has a say in layoff decisions, but if they do, they’ll bat for you if you have these qualities.
Companies often rely on specific projects for their profitability and growth. To increase your exposure, try to get in on these critical plans that the C-suite prioritizes. The more you align yourself with the executives now, the better positioned you’ll be later.
You’ve done the hard work every day. Now, reap your rewards. Highlight your wins and accomplishments.
Communicate clearly to your supervisors about your contributions to the team and company goals. This can be as simple as covering a few highlights of your work with your boss during your weekly 1:1. Share your recent project work during a team meeting. You can even give a presentation on some of your best practices that could help other colleagues. This helps people realize what role you fill and the value you add. It also allows you to build confidence to navigate an unstable market.
If you don’t make yourself recognized at work, your peers and management might not appreciate the work you’re doing or the positive impact you have on the company.
Build your brand
Branding isn’t just for products anymore – it’s also for us! Personal branding gives you an extra edge no matter who you are or where you are in your career. You use branding to shape how others perceive you and to stand out from the crowd of other professionals.
Plus, an online presence with a profile that communicates your brand in the right language allows you to impress your employers and professional contacts. It also makes them much more likely to find you in the first place.
Start investing serious time and effort into building your brand image with these steps:
- Defining who you are and what you offer.
- Craft a powerful, memorable, and authentic brand statement that’s truly you. Focus on your purpose, passion, and accomplishments.
- Update your profiles on social networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram to reflect your brand statement.
- Redo your website and share your portfolio.
- Find your target audience.
- Create engaging content. It should be a mix of your expertise and what your audience wants the most.
- Participate in conversations and threads to make your online presence consistent and compelling.
- Remember that your personal brand should reflect your genuine self.
Good connections, inside and outside your company, help your career and dramatically improve your image. It will help in the future to diversify your potential opportunities. Not only that, eight out of ten jobs (85%) are found via networking.
875 million professionals have LinkedIn accounts, and people in your field are just a search away. Find recruiters and reach out to them. Get in their DMs. They’re waiting to hear from qualified workers like you!
Even if you’re introverted and feel awkward about networking, don’t shy away from it. The more you do it, the more you feel comfortable about it.
Find people who share your interests and goals. Share your stories together and let them know what you have to offer – knowledge, ideas, insights, and support. Ask them questions and listen patiently. Support them wherever you can and always ask, “How can I help?”
Most importantly, don’t connect and forget. Stay in touch.
Whether it’s a tumultuous time or regular workdays, keep learning and expanding your knowledge to future-proof your career. Upskilling and reskilling make you more resilient and adaptable in a fast-changing world. It also gives you a competitive advantage. Moreover, companies looking to consolidate their workforce want employees with versatile knowledge and the eagerness to learn new skills.
Assess your skill gap. Find out where opportunities are opening up in your sector and which skills you’ll need in the future. You can learn to use new tech tools in your industry or start working on a new technical skill. If you’re considering management roles, develop your leadership skills and improve your soft skills. You can even change things up and gain knowledge in an entirely new sector to land a position.
Evaluate your budget and select your learning platform. Today, it’s easy to enroll for free courses on many online learning platforms anywhere, anytime. Plan your learning schedule and stick to it.
Once you complete a course, put it into action. Incorporate the information into your work and share your knowledge with your peers and seniors. It lets others know you have a new skill and also shows you have passion, dedication, and drive when it comes to learning new things.
Get your finances in order
Money is one of the top sources of mental stress when layoffs and recession talk begins. Knowing your financials, along with your best and worst-case scenarios reduces money stress.
Take an honest look at financial health. Ask yourself how much cash you have available, how much debt you’re paying off, and how much you’ll need if the worst happens.
Formulate a plan with specific ways to cut unnecessary expenses and increase your savings. Even if you don’t have savings now, start small. Whatever you save will help and the act of saving will give you a sense of accomplishment. At the same time, try to build your emergency fund. It should cover monthly expenses for at least three months.
If you have some extra time, find a second income source outside your day job. A side gig gives you supplementary income and boosts your confidence as you keep yourself extra prepared in this unstable hiring market.
Most of us feel anxious and unsettled during an economic downturn. The fear of job loss, an unstable job market, and economic uncertainty create significant stress.
It’s kind of like being seasick in choppy waters. High levels of stress put your entire well-being at risk. Anxiety wreaks havoc on your emotional and physical health. It narrows your ability to think clearly and it can even affect your immune system. Look for concrete ways to manage your stress and stay calm under pressure. This is no easy task, so check out some stress management tips:
- Find your cause of stress. What can you do about it? You can avoid it, adapt to it, alter it, or accept it. Those are pretty much the only choices so consider carefully the short-term and long-term consequences of each option.
- Express your feelings instead of keeping them to yourself. Talk about your concerns with people who will support, validate, and uplift you. You do not have to share with anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable or small. But you may find out a lot of folks share your same fears.
- Try to maintain a solid work-life balance. This will be very difficult and you will probably come up short. Be nice to yourself if that happens. Having time for your family, work, social pursuits, and downtime get even harder during a recession. Try to get your job burnout under control.
- If you’re able, try a physical activity, like a short walk or dancing to your favorite songs. Simple stretches at a desk or chair every hour or so help unravel anxiety.
- Ultimately, remember that you’re important and you deserve to have physical and mental well-being.
Have a Plan B
Create your backup plan. Layoffs can happen even if you’ve tried to recession-proof job or if you’ve done everything right in your role.
To prepare for the worst-case scenario, keep your résumé up-to-date with both quantifiable and qualifiable evidence of your accomplishments. Continue networking with your peers to learn about new opportunities and stay in touch with potential employers and recruiters.
Take note of companies that are hiring for your qualifications. You should also research areas and industries where you can transfer your skillset. You may find that you have the potential to grow in another field, making this an opportunity to pivot into a new career path.
You can’t do anything to stop a recession. But if you focus on things within your control, you’ll manage the transition with more ease than those who don’t. Keep delivering value to your company. Own your wins. Learn continuously. Be kind. And most importantly, be resilient.
Need more help? Join us and get the support you need to advance your career in difficult times.