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3 Career Moves to Make When Facing a Recession

By Maurie Backman - Oct 19, 2019 at 5:18AM

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We don't know exactly when the next big downturn is coming, but it's crucial to be prepared for it.

Listen to the news these days, and you'll often hear the word "recession" thrown around. Despite a fairly strong economy, many believe that a downturn isn't so far off.

Unfortunately, recessions are a normal, and almost predictable, component of our country's economy. Therefore, getting too complacent in your job could spell trouble if things go sour. Here are a few steps to take if you're hoping to maintain some degree of job security when our next downturn strikes.

1. Keep your job skills current

The best way to retain a job during a recession, or find a new one if yours is taken away, is to be unquestionably qualified for it. To this end, spending time to boost your skills is a worthwhile investment that could pay dividends in the form of an ongoing paycheck. Identify the skills that are specific to your role, or comparable roles, and make sure they're up to date. At the same time, pay attention to how you're doing on soft skills -- those that apply to any job, like time management, attention to detail, and communication.

Diamond-shaped sign reading economic uncertainty ahead against dark, stormy sky backdrop


2. Stay in touch with the right people

It's one thing to phone an old associate and call in a favor when the economy takes a hit and your job is suddenly on the line. A better bet, however, is to stay on that person's radar before things get bad so that you're not asking for help out of the blue so much as communicating a need to a person you speak to regularly. Before the job market takes a turn for the worse, review your list of professional contacts and start making a concerted effort to stay in touch. Meet people for lunch, send holiday cards, or compose the occasional email to say hello. It could go a long way.

3. Secure a secondary source of income

Getting laid off during a recession is some workers' worst nightmare. To avoid a massive financial hit in that type of scenario, work on establishing some sort of secondary income stream in the interim. That side gig could involve consulting in your current field for private clients on the side (provided your employer doesn't prohibit you from moonlighting), or doing something totally different and perhaps more creative. For example, you might start selling homemade crafts online, promote your services as a photographer, or even start a pet-sitting business. The choice is yours, but the key is to have a second income source so you're not totally out of luck if your main one goes away. (And at the same time, build some emergency savings -- having at least three months' worth of living expenses in the bank is important at all times, and that cash could be a lifeline during a recession.)

Though there's no need to panic over an impending recession, it also never hurts to prepare for one. If anything, it'll give you the peace of mind you need to excel in the present without expending energy worrying about the future.

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