10 Ways to Build Career Resilience in a Recession
|Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash|
With the end of the year looming, I find it's a good time to look back at where I've been and also ahead at where I'm going—or should go. (If anyone has the answer to this, please leave it in the comments! Thank you.)
As I may have mentioned (probably a dozen times, but who's counting?) I've been staring down a lot of waiting lately. And not that I didn't know that this was part of the writing life, but that hasn't made it any less uncomfortable.
To keep busy, I've been pitching articles and doing some freelance work. I started a new manuscript and I've taken about four million pictures of my cats.
(One thing you can tell from this photo, I haven't spent much time straightening up my house.)
In a moment of desperation, after speculating that all the things I'd put out there would result in a series of "No..." "No, thank you!" and "Definitely not!"s, I applied for a full-time job. It was a partially-remote writing position at a startup based in NYC.
I submitted my resumé on a whim, thinking that if I got it, I'd take it as a sign from the universe to quit fiddling around with fictional characters and cat photography and get back to work.
Side note: I should mention that my husband started a new job in September and things have gotten off to a less-than-stellar start. Weekly layoffs dominated the first month and employees have been told to brace for more this month and next. Happy holidays!
Of course, precarious work situations are the norm now. Every day we read or hear about thousands of employees who've been dismissed with little to no warning. Things on the hiring side aren't great either—I applied for one position and received an email that an onboarding freeze had been implemented, but they'd hold on to my resumé. (Not too encouraging.)
Even worse, a reader who reached out to me several months ago after she was let go received an offer for what she hoped would be her dream job only to be told the company could no longer "fund the position." Needless to say, she's reeling. Things are bleak on both ends.
Back to my potential job at the startup: I had a video interview on Halloween and I thought it went well. (I even did some light dusting and removed my martini glasses from the background, so you know I was really trying.)
After the call ended, I sent a thank you email and links to work samples as requested. But then I got a little nervous. Did I really want to trek to midtown Manhattan several times a week if I got this job? With two teens at home and my husband now back in an office, it's been nice to have the luxury of working from home. Even if I loved the work, could I stand NJ Transit again? I haven't missed the chronic delays, those loud, one-sided cell phone conversations, or sitting beside someone shoveling down a fajita at 7 a.m.
Well, reader, I didn't need to worry too long because by the end of the week, I was told they wouldn't be "advancing my candidacy"—a phrase that made me laugh as it was so close to election season. Reading that rejection email filled me with relief. I didn't want to commute nor am I totally ready to give up on the projects I've pitched. So now at least I know that—and sometimes knowing what you don't want is just as important as knowing what you do.
For the moment, I'd rather remain in my unsettling holding pattern than make a wrong move.
I know I'm not the only one who's weighing her options at this tumultuous time. I received an email this week from Flex Jobs, noting that, according to a recent survey, 39 percent of US workers are worried about their job security and 73 percent are concerned about a recession impacting their career.
With that, the FlexJobs’ Career Coaching team offered 10 ways remote and hybrid workers can practice career resilience during a recession. I thought I'd share it here as I've previously included several similar tips when I've given presentations on not getting discouraged while job hunting. I hope you find them helpful!
1. Think Like an Entrepreneur
Professionals are responsible for charting their path and building their personal brand, so leading with an entrepreneurial mindset means knowing that a career is yours alone to manage. Instead of relying on a company or employer for personal and professional success, managing one’s career path like a business gives the power to the individual to set and achieve the goals they set out for themselves.
2. Focus Your Job Search
As hiring still happens in down times, job seekers should identify and narrow their search to companies that are actively recruiting for new employees.
FlexJobs also recommends job seekers identify remote opportunities at companies with a history of hiring for remote-friendly jobs by consulting lists such as:
- 100 Companies to Watch for Remote Jobs
- 25 Companies Embracing Permanent Remote Work
- 30 Companies Hiring For Part-Time, Remote Jobs
- 30 Companies That Hire for Work-From-Anywhere Jobs
3. Put Your Financial House in Order
Even though the average person can save up to $6,000 working at home half the time, inflation concerns and recession fears are still fueling a heightened level of concern for many flexible workers, especially around managing day-to-day finances. Alleviate some of this uncertainty by better monitoring daily expenses and getting all household finances in order. Review budgets with a fine-tooth comb, find ways to reduce spending, and focus on increasing "rainy day" savings. Additionally, take time to assess both current financial wellness and long-term financial goals, including retirement savings, protecting investments, and estate planning.
4. Highlight Achievements
Having a list of accomplishments helps any candidate build confidence, better recognize their strengths, and highlight their greatest attributes for job searching––all incredibly important when navigating an unstable hiring market. If unsure which accolades to include, ask current and former supervisors, bosses, colleagues, and clients to write a recommendation on LinkedIn. In addition to helping professionals identify their skills, these recommendations are particularly helpful for remote workers because it’s like having reference letters out there for everyone to see online before they even ask. Just be sure to let recommenders know the skills and qualities you'd like them to focus on. If it feels uncomfortable asking, start the process by writing a recommendation for someone else first.
5. Get Social
Social networking sites can be great for helping remote workers find job opportunities and make connections at a distance. But creating a profile is not enough. Especially during a recession, it’s important remote professionals actively manage and update all professional digital profiles on sites like LinkedIn with the latest skills, experience, and education. Creating a dynamic profile can tell a candidate’s professional story and help position them as an expert in their area. This includes highlighting the right keywords that make profiles more searchable by hiring teams, showcasing skills that are highly relevant to a given career industry, and organizing everything to present skills in an impactful way.
6. Seek Out Side Hustles
Side gigs can help workers insulate themselves from financial instability. They can help build up savings in the present to lean on should hard financial times happen down the road. If a worker loses their full-time job during a recession, side jobs can help keep them afloat until the economy turns around. Plus if history is any indicator, there's a good possibility that remote freelance jobs will increase as seen in past recessions. When economic conditions become uncertain, companies often turn to freelancers when it's not possible for them to take on a full-time or part-time employee. Non-traditional types of work like freelancing and multiple part-time or side gigs don’t have to be a permanent choice, but they are an excellent support line in uncertain times.
7. Make Mental Health a Priority
Beyond financial hardships, recession-related fears of failure and anxiety about the unexpected can take a toll on workers’ mental health. But as highlighted in this Mayo Clinic breakdown, “resilience means being able to adapt to life's misfortunes and setbacks.” Workers who take care of themselves and practice acts that put their mental health first, such as developing work-life boundaries when working from home and engaging in personal activities outside of work, are better able to cope with immediate challenges, build grit, and weather any issues that may arise during difficult times.
8. Stay Strong & Network On
Effective networking is more than gathering up contact information for later use. In addition to knowing where to network, professionals need to know how to ask people to join their network, maintain industry connections, and feel confident when networking. In the event of an economic downturn, candidates should prepare by staying active within their current network and by actively expanding it. While in-person networking is beneficial, remote professionals can utilize the "My Network" tab on LinkedIn, which is highly valuable for connecting with past peers, colleagues, and mentors.
9. Give Back
Helping others can alleviate professionals from focusing or dwelling too much on personal circumstances. Additionally, volunteering can help professionals gain experience that many employers want. For example, nonprofits frequently need help with accounting, marketing, event planning, and much more. It provides workers the chance to try out newly developed skills in a professional setting and can be a great way to test out a job before making a permanent career change. Sites like VolunteerMatch and Idealist.org are great places to get started and look for opportunities.
10. Expand Your Knowledge
Committing to lifelong learning allows professionals to take charge of career development and increases their resiliency and self-confidence. Seek out professional development courses, training, and webinars related to any in-demand skills or any that are of interest. Fortunately, many basic courses can easily be found online for free. If employed, consider looking for opportunities or take on more responsibility within current roles to hone new and existing professional skills.
As always, thanks for reading!