As the trade wars continue to escalate, I’m starting to hear more usage of the “R-word” – as in, “recession.” (Insert Psycho violin screeching)
What does a recession mean for you?
A recession can impact your job security, income, and career track - often severely. Each recession has different causes and effects – and the next one, when it inevitably arrives, will also be unique. Factors like trade wars, Brexit, student loan debt, and an aging population will all put a different spin on a recession than the last one. Some industries will be immune and many will not.
Having worked with thousands of executives who suddenly found themselves unemployed, I have distilled several lessons-learned from their experiences.
Here are the top five:
Your market value does not always go up. Many professionals have the assumption that their compensation will only keep going up. There is no guarantee that you will make more money at your next job. If your industry tanks, the job market can get flooded by job seekers just like you. High supply and low demand can deflate salaries substantially. Your next job might have a significantly different compensation structure, including smaller bonuses or no long-term incentives. Plan accordingly.
Don’t over-leverage yourself. If your lifestyle requires every penny you currently earn, you might find yourself facing hard choices very quickly if you are suddenly unemployed. I have known highly-compensated-six figure executives living paycheck to paycheck that have to jump on the first offer that comes their way, often in another state. To give yourself some room to maneuver, you should have a war chest of several months’ salary saved up (preferably without having to tap retirement funding) to give yourself time to find the right job.
Identify your risk exposure. Take an honest assessment on how likely you are to get laid off. There are multiple factors to consider. How essential is your employer in a recession? A hospital will stay open in a recession, a day spa might not. How is the company doing financially? Are they publicly traded? What is their history of laying off workers? Are you in a support role or are you directly involved in generating revenue? How essential are you to the company? Can your job be outsourced to a third party or contractors? Are you highly compensated? Are you close to retirement age? All of this should give you an idea on how expendable you are. Often support roles, middle managers, or executives nearing retirement are the first to go.
Build your network now. About 80% of job seekers find jobs through networking. It is something you can do regardless of your job status. Networking both internally and externally to your company does not have to be a huge investment of time. Most of the higher-level executives we’ve helped through a job transition completely ignored their network and found themselves starting from scratch when they were let go. This potentially cost them thousands of dollars by being unemployed months longer while they tried to catch up. Having several hundred connections you can reach out to when you are on a job hunt will get you much farther, faster, than having a dozen or so former co-workers.
Invest in your market value now. We are always a proponent of “sharpening the saw” professionally. You can take time now to add to your skill set, often at your current employer’s expense. Many corporations offer online training courses that are free or reimburse tuition at community colleges or universities, even if you are not pursuing a degree. Examples might be learning a new coding language or ERP system, advanced Excel, basic finance, or project management. Many universities offer online certificate courses that executives can take to maintain relevance in the marketplace, often for very low costs. This will only increase your value to your current (or future) employer. It will set you apart from the rest of the pack that has not invested the same time in their skills.
My company, the Rivet Group, was named in honor of the professionals out there that “hold everything together.” We call them Riveters (which you are, if you read any of my other blog posts). The hard part of being a Riveter is that you generally have a lot on your plate and finding the time to be prepared for job loss can seem impossible. Hopefully you will not face a job loss anytime soon, but like a recession, it’s statistically likely.
There is a professional upside to being prepared – well-networked people have a way of great jobs finding them when they are not looking for one. Adding to your skill set also makes you more competitive for your next promotion or can allow you to switch to another career field within your company.
If the key to most successful ventures in life is preparation, being ready for a new job search is no exception.
At the Rivet Group, we strive to help our clients maximize their potential. If you are ready for a new job, are looking for the right people for your team or have something else in mind, we would like to hear from you. Visit www.rivetgroupllc.com to learn more.