Economically, 2018 can best be described as a Boom Time! Even with uncertain news of a government shutdown from the nation’s capital, stock indexes have continued to rise to historic highs, with all three benchmark indexes (Dow, Nasdaq, S&P) posting their third straight weekly advances. The S&P 500 just charted 395 consecutive sessions without falling 5%, an unequaled stretch in the stock market’s entire history.
So… with the 2018 economy billowing into sky-high uncharted territory, based in part on elation over corporate tax cuts, surging oil prices, and continued jobs growth, are you ready, right now, should we face another recession that could threaten your current employment?
When economic times are good, like now, many professionals and workers behave as if they will roll on indefinitely… Unfortunately, history tells us a different story.
In the Great Depression, the first sign of an impending calamity was a bubble in the stock market, and in October 1929, the stock market crash paved the way to an unemployment rate of 25% and housing prices plunging to 31% below previous value. It took massive government spending on social programs and World War II combined to lead the nation to recovery.
In more recent history, our nation experiences an economic crisis every 10 years or so. With the last recession in 2007-2008, we are absolutely due for another downturn. While the causes of economic dislocation are always different, the results are generally the same… high unemployment, a banking system in danger of collapsing, with extreme economic contraction, all symptoms of a full recession.
Take yourself back to 2007… when the U.S. economy looked strong, jobs were booming, and many American professionals were caught unguarded. According to CNNMoney.com, “The steep annual drop in jobs marked the highest yearly job-loss total since 1945, the year in which World War II ended.”
The hemorrhaging of American jobs accelerated at a record pace by the end of 2008, bringing the year’s total job losses to 2.6 million – the highest level in more than six decades. According to Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, “We’re seeing a complete unraveling of the labor market and are on track for getting beyond 10% unemployment.”
As a career coach and resume writer during those difficult years of the 2008 recession, I witnessed an avalanche of newly unemployed, dispirited, and in many cases, desperate jobseekers who faced the dilemma of having no work at all, or accepting a replacement job at a fraction of their former salary, simply to support their families.
However, those clients who had properly prepared themselves in advance, who had heeded the career coaching we provided over the years, and who armed themselves with best practices and winning job search tools, fared remarkably well… In fact, just as in real estate, a down market can often provide the best opportunities for those prepared to take advantage of shifts and changes.
Here are the 5 most effective tips you can apply to ensure that your career is “recession-proof” and to help you land comfortably on your feet in the event of a sudden economic downturn that threatens your employment.
TIP #1 – Don’t Get Laid Off! Sounds crazy, right? Not as much as you might think. While it is true that outstanding workers may also get dismissed when the economy tanks, it is more often the case that those who are perceived as less valuable, those with poor performance records, and those without strong advocates within the organization are generally the first to be let go. Don’t be that person! Right now, make up your mind to develop positive ties within your company’s top management, volunteer to assist with special projects and company events, and raise your game to bring in better results within your areas of responsibility.
TIP #2 – Constantly Market Yourself! In today’s hyper-competitive, often volatile, and loyalty-challenged job landscape, expecting your current job to last forever is not a winning strategy. Most highly successful professionals now use the “escalator” approach, taking one job up a level or two, and then getting off to take another job to an even high level. The industry standard is 4-6 years… If you haven’t been awarded a promotion or serious salary bump in 4-6 years, your marketability may actually be declining with each passing year. You should always be checking job boards, employment sites, and company portals to learn about available opportunities that match your qualifications.
TIP #3 – Build Your Career Toolkit! A state-of-the-art Career Toolkit includes an up-to-date resume that meets today’s best standards and stands out from the crowd. It needs to be accomplishment-based, stylish, ATS-compliant (compatible with resume scanning and ranking technologies), and literally full of metrics and performance indicators. If you are unsure as to whether or not your resume measures up, get professional help… it is simply too important. Your Career Toolkit also should include cover letters, reference sheets, testimonials, a transition statement, an elevator pitch, email scripts, articles that you wrote or were quoted in, an executive bio, and a portfolio of awards, certificates, performance evaluations, and more.
TIP #4 – Reinvent Your LinkedIn Profile! The best and most effective LinkedIn Profiles are compelling, chock full of content, make efficient use of the “real estate” that LinkedIn provides, with color graphics and photos to make your profile visually attractive. A professional headshot is also a must. And once you reinvent your profile, you definitely need to expand your number of connections. Don’t wait until you are out of work to suddenly realize that LinkedIn can be your best career ally.
And remember that LinkedIn, as opposed to other job board sites, is a safe place to showcase your qualifications… Why? Because being on LinkedIn is not absolutely an indicator that you are “looking” for something else (even when you are). You will find that top company CEOs and executive staff are on LinkedIn, not always to hawk themselves, but to help showcase their company’s brand. People post their profiles on LinkedIn in order to garner speaking engagements or media interviews, for sales outreach, to help recruit talent to their firms, and to bring awareness to their organizations. In fact, some firms are now encouraging their top staff to get on LinkedIn. As I have written before, “LinkedIn is the New Rolodex.” So those who are not on LinkedIn, and just as importantly, those who have less than optimal LinkedIn profiles, are not taking advantage of an important tool.
Tip #4 – Improve Yourself! Stay in the trim by attending relevant conferences and events, completing continuing education courses, earning degrees or credentials, taking webinars, reading industry journals, keeping fit and in good health, and preparing weekly and monthly plans for improvement. By doing this, you are positioning yourself for a soft landing, should the economy cause a loss of your employment.
Tip #5 – Get Out There & Work It! Recent psychological studies are showing that your social network will extend your life and well-being, sometimes even more than exercise. The same is true for your career. Those who get out there, attend industry conferences and meetings, actively volunteer in their communities, write articles for newsletters and publications, join boards and committees, and improve their visibility within the business arena, tend to get more offers and opportunities, especially when they most need them.
Grant Cooper recently won the national Career Directors International President’s Award (CDI National Conference, Orlando, FL).
Grant Cooper, founder of Strategic Resumes & Career Coaching, has appeared as a career expert on CBS, ABC & FOX, has published more than 300 media and journal articles, teaches seminars at major industry conferences, and serves as a judge for national resume writing competitions.
Grant has assisted the U.S. Air Force, Kinko’s, the Louisiana Dept. of Labor, the NFL, the NBA, as well as universities, regional banks, medical centers, celebrities, nonprofits, and corporations. Grant’s clients land positions at Fortune 500 firms.