With a looming recession, it’s normal to worry about keeping your job or getting a new one. Instead of worrying too much, take these concrete steps to put yourself in the best possible position to get through the tough times ahead.
If you follow the economic news these days, you know things are more uncertain than ever. The likelihood of the economy slipping into recession seems to be increasing by the day. While job openings remain near record highs, recent layoffs and hiring freezes at big-name companies like Meta, Peloton and The Gap have raised additional concerns, particularly among people looking for new jobs.
According to a June 2022 Joblist survey, 60% of job seekers feel they urgently need to find a job now before market conditions deteriorate, while 49% of job seekers also believe the labor market will deteriorate over the next six months.
“It’s still largely a candidate market because of the many open positions out there,” said Chris Sinclair, chief people officer at Bayard Advertising. “But job seekers don’t feel quite as empowered when negotiating offers.”
Changing economic conditions have also changed the way job seekers view potential employers. Candidates are now asking far more questions about the financial performance of companies and whether they have been laid off in recent years.
“These questions all target job security and help the candidate feel more confident about taking the plunge that the job — and the company — is viable over the long term, even if a recession hits,” says Sinclair.
Here are some tips to consider if you are looking for a new job or even worried about keeping the job you already have.
Keep current employees informed
While some surprises are fun, no one wants to lose their job unexpectedly. For this reason, current employees have every right to raise any job security concerns with their manager if they fear the possibility of being fired.
“If employers have learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that transparency and communication in the workplace are critical,” says Sinclair.
Whenever uncertainty is in the air, employers should regularly communicate where the company stands in terms of financial performance, customer trends and employee plans, and the possibility of layoffs.
“Being open about what plans might be in the event of a recession will help raise employee expectations and fear of the unknown,” says Sinclair. “This will also show employees that the company is thinking ahead and has a strategic plan – all things that will help employees feel more secure in the face of macroeconomic uncertainty.”
If management is not proactive in sharing this type of information, employees should feel empowered to schedule a meeting with their manager to discuss their concerns and ask questions that are on their hearts.
“Organizations should also ensure that managers are armed with the information they need to have these types of meaningful dialogues with their team members,” says Sinclair. “Nobody likes being taken by surprise. Therefore, open communication and transparency on the part of an employer about the business situation is more important than ever.”
Ask the right questions
While an interview provides an opportunity for an employer to ask questions and assess a candidate’s suitability for an open position, the reverse is also true. It’s an opportunity for candidates to see if the company is a good fit for them.
If you’re looking for a new job, you should walk into an interview that comes prepped with a list of questions that will help you assess if the company is right for you — and if it’s recession-ready .
Questions to ask yourself could be:
- What was the company’s customer retention rate in the past year?
- How has the company communicated job security to current employees?
- Have you made layoffs in the past and if so, how have you dealt with them?
- How does the company meet the needs of employees in terms of inflation, flexibility and benefits that are important to them?
A conversation about such questions is “normal” because every new job brings fear of the unknown and affects the candidate’s life.
“These perceptions are now being reinforced by the current economic environment,” says Sinclair. “It’s important for candidates to understand the health of the company, why the specific position they’re applying for is open, and whether the companies they’re interviewing at are interested , retaining talent and keeping their employees happy, or whether they are creating new roles to grow the business in new and exciting ways.
“Until the tension of an imminent recession cools, interviewers should anticipate questions like these and take time to answer them thoughtfully and transparently.”
Do you have a backup plan?
Whether or not you’re concerned about the status of your job, it’s always a good idea to have an up-to-date resume that’s ready and ready to share.
“You never know when your dream opportunity may come along,” says Sinclair. “And even the most secure job can fall on precarious ground in the face of an economic downturn.”
If you think your job is less secure than others, it’s a good time to take a look at where you are in your career and decide what your ideal next opportunity would be. Ask yourself questions like: Do I want to switch industries? Move? Is there another job I would like to position myself for?
“Planning ahead in this way and being pragmatic is infinitely more valuable than just worrying about what might happen,” says Sinclair.
It’s also important to prepare yourself financially if you experience a temporary drop in income (or even a loss).
“Some savings and/or a secondary source of income to fall back on – for example via the burgeoning gig economy—can help you avoid incurring large debts in the event of a job loss,” says Sinclair.
Improve your skill game
Regardless of what’s happening in the economy, employers will always be looking for candidates who demonstrate versatility and can diversify beyond their core roles to support the business.
Keeping an eye on which skills are trending and which skills are most in demand by employers is also a great way to target your learning. “Digital and data literacy, emotional intelligence, and leadership skills are just some of the areas that are likely to be in greatest demand over the coming years,” says Sinclair.
To develop into a stronger candidate, you might consider learning new technical skills outside of your area of expertise, taking on additional job responsibilities, or even moving entirely to a new department or company as demand rises and falls.
“When employees learn new skills, it can advance the business in other ways, including reducing the cost of hiring and training new employees, retaining and motivating employees, and improving the company’s overall reputation,” says Sinclair. “Learning new skills is also a great way to future-proof your skills and not only add value to your current role, but also make you attractive if/when you are back on the job market.”
Don’t compromise, just adapt
As the old saying goes, it’s always darkest before dawn. That is, even if the economy or the job market takes a hit, conditions will eventually improve because the economy moves in cycles. Even in a great economy, finding and keeping the job you want can be difficult.
Therefore, even if you enter the labor market in difficult times, you should continue to pursue your dream job. Do not be discouraged. With time and perseverance, you will get the job and build the career you want.
“If the exact role you want isn’t in high demand when you enter the market, think about what secondary or related roles you can take on that will serve as a stepping stone to your dream job when the market settles in,” says Sinclair. “Don’t compromise, adapt.”
Being strategic about your job search and having a plan to get you from where you are now to where you want to be is the best way to be successful not only today, but also in your future – recession-wise or here.