Preparing my Career for an Economic Cool-Down
This past week I participated in something called a “simulated society”. This exercise had each person take on a role in a society based on four separate economic tiers and privilege levels. During the activity political parties were formed, people were hired and fired, economic tiers grew and shrank, and chance created situations that affected every tier based on their preparation levels.
Yes, some levels had built in security through food, money, and jobs, but we could see how the slightest changes could wipe out the security each area had created for its people. The main lesson about our stability to take from this experiment was, economies will rise and fall, but what you do in preparation of these shifts could be the key in long-term success.
Looking at the job cooling period we are experiencing and will likely continue to experience (I am shying away from the word recession), there are a few things you can do to ensure you are not just surviving but thriving and growing.
- Knowledge - Be aware of your sector’s growth and organization’s strategies. We are fortunate that the current economic cooling is happening at the same time as a population cliff (less people are being born to replace other workers). This creates a balance for many industries. Look beyond the headlines about downsizing and scary numbers of lay-offs. Look at how many of those people were repurposed in companies, and if those companies also had massive hirings during the last 3 years (Zoom, Amazon, Salesforce). Also, look at the lay-offs in comparison to unemployment numbers for a sector. Some positions may be eliminated in high demand sectors, and the displaced workers actually fair better with multiple job offers.
- Finances - This one is a given in any economy. Reduce your expenses and debt and increase your savings in case you need to live off of savings during a period of unemployment.
- Skills - This may be a good time to inventory your career skills and assets. What makes you important to your current employer, and what makes you less important or replaceable? Do you need to finish your degree or invest in new training on best practices and technology for your sector? Have you been attending professional conferences to know what trends are occurring in your industry? Consider this a time of growth for yourself professionally. Even if your current employer makes hard cuts, you will be fresh and show value to others in your industry.
- Network - We always hear people want what others already have even more. It is easier to receive job offers if people see how valuable you are in your current position. Attending industry focused and community events can create intrinsic value for your current employer and for any future employers.
- Dream Big - Recessive periods in our economy (I did not say recession) will always come and go, but it is important to understand that with these downturns come opportunity to lean into the changes. Look at ways to save your company financially through innovation. Look for areas that you can take on new responsibilities and learn new skills. Though it may seem like taking on new projects and skills can be overwhelming, it is those that lean into change that weather the storms best.
Remember the economy ebbs and flows. We will always face robust and recessive periods. It is what you do to prepare for these periods by enhancing yourself, your skills, and your value in the workforce that will place you on the path to further success.