Don't get caught off guard by a recession.

The best time to start recession-proofing your career is before an economic downturn hits. However, once a recession arrives, you can still take certain steps to protect your job and perhaps even keep your career moving forward. Here's how to recession-proof yourself prior to or while in the depths of a major economic downturn.

Build up your skill set

Regardless of the industry you work in, there are always more skills to learn — new tools, new approaches, and new ways for your career to develop. For example, the invention of blockchain has had an enormous impact on database development, opening huge demand for developers with expertise in that type of software. 

Your manager will likely be happy to help you hone your existing skills and pick up new ones, and just showing your interest in skill development may well be in your favor should a round of layoffs arrive. But your current employer isn't the only self-development resource you have; sites like Coursera, Khan Academy, Google Code Academy, and others offer free online courses in a huge range of subjects. 

Besides your technical skills, make sure you are also working on your soft skills. From communication to time management, you want to be able to reference these skills during a job search. Make sure you can list the soft skills you excel in and any solid examples of when these skills proved useful to you.

Lastly, don't forget to focus on your transferable skills — especially if you find yourself making a career shift due to an economic downturn. Having a core set of transferable skills — which are skills that are useful in most industries or positions — will give your career resilience during your job search; these transferable skills will help you when trying to transition into a relevant, in-demand job. Make sure you create a list of these skills now before you need them so that you are ready for when a recession does hit. 

Stand out (in a good way)

Actively pursuing professional development is just one way to attract notice from your manager. You'll also be a lot more recession-proof if your boss thinks of you as the most indispensable employee in your department. To manage this feat, you'll want to periodically bring yourself to your manager's attention by getting your work done early and under budget, volunteering for additional tasks, proactively suggesting ways to cut costs or increase revenues, resolving problems within the department, reporting on your results, and so on.

Your boss is also likely to smile upon you if they find you an easy employee to manage. That means being flexible — graciously accepting changes to your job (such as new shifts or extra responsibilities), working well with others in your department, building relationships with customers and co-workers in other parts of the company, and more.

Prepare for the worst

Despite your best efforts, you might still get caught up in the wave of layoffs that typically accompanies an economic downturn. For example, if your company goes out of business, it doesn't matter how much your manager loves you — you're still out of a job. But if you take steps to prepare for potential layoffs well in advance, you can make it easier to hop into a new job with a minimum amount of disruption.

Update your resume

If you haven't already, dig up your resume and update it. Make sure it includes not only your most recent employment and up-to-date contact information, but also all your major accomplishments and any new skills you've developed since the last time you went looking for a job.

Up your networking game

Now is also the time to crank up your networking efforts. It's much easier to find a new job through internal referrals than through the application process. Get back in touch with any contacts you haven't spoken to recently and work on developing new ones — particularly in companies where you'd love to work in the future.

Manage your online presence

Make sure to review and clean up your social media profiles and other components of your online presence for a new job search. Google yourself first to see what comes up, and then delete any pictures, tweets, or posts that don't promote your professional brand or could get in the way of your candidacy. 

If you don't want to necessarily dive deep into your social media accounts, it's also a good idea to camouflage your non-business profiles so that they won't turn up on a casual Google search of your name — especially if said profiles contain anything that you wouldn't want your future boss to know about. One way to make your personal accounts more discrete is to use your first and middle name as your name for that profile, instead of including your last name. 

Don't forget about LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a terrific job-search tool. If a recession is looming on the horizon, make sure you're actively updating your profile and making important connections with people in your network and beyond. 

Just be careful, however; if you're still working, your activity could come to the attention of your current employer, who might then assume that you're planning to jump ship. Avoid this potential hassle by changing your LinkedIn account settings so that these updates won't be posted to your activity feed.

Related: Lost Touch? How to Reconnect With People in Your Network

Start job hunting for recession-proof jobs

Some jobs are inherently more suited for recessions than others, with the most recession-proof careers being positions within industries or companies that tend to thrive during economic downturns. But if your current job is not one of those careers, now might be the time to proactively move to a more protected one.

Industries that are typically more recession-proof include education, law enforcement, medicine, and public utility services. This means that those professionals who are teachers, police officers, pharmacists, and trash collectors will more than likely remain essential during an economic downturn. 

If you don't work in one of those fields and don't want to switch, you might instead focus on employers that are likely to make it through a tough economic downturn relatively intact. These include companies that are leaders in their industries, as well as companies belonging to economic sectors that do well in tough times. For example, companies that make consumer staples, like toilet paper and toothpaste, generally continue to do well during recessions because people need to keep on buying those things regardless of the state of the economy.

Now that you have some ideas for how to be recession-proof, it's important to start trying out these strategies right away. The more time you have to prepare yourself for an economic downturn, the less time you'll spend unemployed. Remember, there's no such thing as a completely recession-proof job, but by taking these precautions, you can greatly increase your safety during an economic downturn.

Is your resume ready for if the economy takes a turn for the worst? Let TopResume check it over for you with a free resume review today!

This article was updated in March 2020 by Danielle Elmers.

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