Here’s How To Hunt For A Job Before (And After) The Recession Hits

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With a reces­sion loom­ing, it’s nor­mal to feel anx­ious about keep­ing your job or land­ing a new one. Rather than wor­ry too much, take these con­crete steps to put your­self in the best posi­tion pos­si­ble to weath­er any tough times ahead.

If you’re pay­ing atten­tion to the eco­nom­ic news these , you know that things are more uncer­tain than ever. The odds of the econ­o­my slip­ping into a reces­sion seem to increase by the day. While job open­ings remain at near record highs, recent lay­offs and hir­ing freezes by big name com­pa­nies like Meta, Pelo­ton and The Gap have cre­at­ed addi­tion­al anx­i­ety, espe­cial­ly among peo­ple seek­ing new jobs.

Accord­ing to a Job­list sur­vey June 2022, 60% of job seek­ers feel a sense of urgency to find a job now before mar­ket con­di­tions change for the worse, while 49% of those for work also think the job mar­ket is going to get worse in the next six months.

“It’s still large­ly a can­di­date’s mar­ket due to the vol­ume of open jobs out there,” says Chris Sin­clair, Chief Peo­ple Offi­cer, at Bayard Adver­tis­ing. “But job seek­ers don’t feel quite as empow­ered nego­ti­at­ing offers.”

Chang­ing eco­nom­ic con­di­tions have also shift­ed how job seek­ers assess poten­tial employ­ers. Can­di­dates are now ask­ing a lot more ques­tions about the finan­cial tra­jec­to­ry of com­pa­nies and whether they have had lay­offs over the past cou­ple years.

“These ques­tions are all geared towards job and help­ing the can­di­date feel more con­fi­dent when tak­ing the leap that the job—and the company—are sus­tain­able in the long term, even if a reces­sion ,” says Sin­clair.

Here are some tips to con­sid­er if you’re hunt­ing for a new job, or even wor­ry­ing about keep­ing the job you already have.

Keeping current employees in the know

While some sur­pris­es are fun, nobody wants to lose their job unex­pect­ed­ly. That’s why cur­rent employ­ees have every right to address job secu­ri­ty con­cerns with their man­agers if they are fear­ful about poten­tial­ly being laid off.

“If employ­ers learned any­thing from the pan­dem­ic, it’s that trans­paren­cy and com­mu­ni­ca­tion are crit­i­cal in the work­place,” says Sin­clair.

Any time there is uncer­tain­ty in the air, employ­ers should be reg­u­lar­ly com­mu­ni­cat­ing where the com­pa­ny stands in terms of finan­cial per­for­mance, cus­tomer trends and head­count plans, as well as the pos­si­bil­i­ty of any lay­offs.

“Being open about what plans might look like in the event of a reces­sion will set employ­ee expec­ta­tions and the 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 con­fi­dent in the face of macro-eco­nom­ic uncer­tain­ty.”

If com­pa­ny lead­er­ship isn’t proac­tive­ly shar­ing this kind of infor­ma­tion, employ­ees should feel empow­ered to sched­ule a meet­ing with their man­ag­er to dis­cuss their con­cerns and ask ques­tions that are top of mind for them.

“Com­pa­nies should also ensure man­agers are equipped with the infor­ma­tion they need to have these kinds of mean­ing­ful dia­logues with their team mem­bers,” says Sin­clair. “No one appre­ci­ates being blind­sided. That’s why open com­mu­ni­ca­tion and trans­paren­cy from an employ­er on the state of the is more impor­tant than ever.”

Ask the right questions

While a job inter­view offers an employ­er a chance to ask ques­tions and assess if a can­di­date will be a good fit for an open posi­tion, the reverse is also true. It’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty for can­di­dates to see if the com­pa­ny is a fit for them.

If you’re on the hunt for a new job, you’ll want to go into an inter­view pre­pared with a list of ques­tions to help you assess if the com­pa­ny is right for you—and if they’re ready for the reces­sion.

Ques­tions to con­sid­er ask­ing might include:

  • What the com­pa­ny’s reten­tion rate over the past year?
  • How the com­pa­ny has been com­mu­ni­cat­ing to cur­rent employ­ees about job secu­ri­ty?
  • Have they done lay­offs in the past and, if so, how have they han­dled them?
  • How has the com­pa­ny been meet­ing employ­ees’ needs based on infla­tion, flex­i­bil­i­ty and ben­e­fits that are impor­tant to them?

Hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion around ques­tions like these is “nor­mal” because any new job brings a fear of the unknown and will have an impact on the can­di­date’s life.

“These per­cep­tions are now height­ened even more due to the cur­rent eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion,” says Sin­clair. “It’s impor­tant for can­di­dates to under­stand the health of the busi­ness, the rea­son why the spe­cif­ic role they’re apply­ing for is open and learn if the com­pa­nies they are inter­view­ing with are invest­ed in retain­ing tal­ent and keep­ing their employ­ees hap­py, or if they are cre­at­ing new roles to expand the busi­ness in new and excit­ing ways.

“Until the ten­sion of a pend­ing reces­sion cools off, inter­view­ers should expect ques­tions like this and should take time to answer them thought­ful­ly and with trans­paren­cy in mind.”

Have a backup plan

Whether you’re wor­ried about the sta­tus of your job or not, it’s always a good idea to have an up-to-date resume built out and ready to share.

“You nev­er know when your dream oppor­tu­ni­ty might come along,” says Sin­clair. “And even the most secure job can be on pre­car­i­ous ground in the face of an eco­nom­ic down­turn.”

If you feel 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 ide­al­next oppor­tu­ni­ty would look like. Ask your­self ques­tions like: Would I like to change indus­tries? Relo­cate? Is there a dif­fer­ent job I would like to posi­tion myself for?

“Plan­ning ahead in this way and being prag­mat­ic is infi­nite­ly more valu­able than sim­ply wor­ry­ing about what might hap­pen,” says Sin­clair.

It’s also impor­tant to pre­pare finan­cial­ly if you tem­porar­i­ly expe­ri­ence a drop (or even loss) of income.

“Hav­ing some sav­ings set aside and/or a sec­ondary source of income you can go to—for exam­ple, via the bur­geon­ing gig econ­o­mycan help ensure you don’t take on a lot of debt in the event of a job loss,” says Sin­clair.

Up your skills game

Regard­less of what hap­pens in the econ­o­my, employ­ers will always be on the hunt for can­di­dates who show ver­sa­til­i­ty and can diver­si­fy beyond their core respon­si­bil­i­ties to sup­port the busi­ness.

Keep­ing an eye on what skills are trend­ing and what capa­bil­i­ties are most in-demand from employ­ers is also a good way to tar­get your learn­ing. “ and data lit­er­a­cy, emo­tion­al intel­li­gence and lead­er­ship skills are just some of the pro­ject­ed to be in high­est demand in the com­ing years,” says Sin­clair.

To make your­self into a stronger can­di­date, you could con­sid­er learn­ing new tech­ni­cal skills out­side of your area of exper­tise, take on addi­tion­al job respon­si­bil­i­ties or even to a new depart­ment or com­pa­ny entire­ly as demand ebbs and flows.

“When employ­ees learn new skills, it can help fur­ther the busi­ness in oth­er ways, includ­ing reduc­ing the cost of hir­ing and train­ing new employ­ees, keep­ing employ­ees engaged and moti­vat­ed and improv­ing the com­pa­ny’s over­all rep­u­ta­tion,” says Sin­clair. “Learn­ing new skills is also a great way to future-proof your capa­bil­i­ties and not only add more val­ue to your cur­rent role, but also set you up to be attrac­tive if/when you are back on the job mar­ket.”

Don’t compromise but adapt

As the old say­ing goes, it’s always dark­est before the dawn. That means 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 it can be chal­leng­ing to land and keep the job you want.

That’s why, even if you’re enter­ing the work­force dur­ing tough times, you should con­tin­ue to pur­sue your dream job. Don’t get dis­cour­aged. With time and per­se­ver­ance, you will land the job and build the career you want.

“If the exact role you want isn’t in demand when you enter the mar­ket, think about what periph­er­al or relat­ed roles you can take on that will act as a step­ping­stone to your dream job as the mar­ket lev­els out,” says Sin­clair. “Don’t com­pro­mise but adapt.”

Approach­ing a job search strate­gi­cal­ly and with a plan to get from where you are now to where you want to be is the best way to set your­self up for suc­cess not just for today, but in your future as well—recession or not.

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