Keep your career healthy when the economy is sick

Posted October 13, 2011, by Helen Isbister

Perhaps the global financial crisis is the catalyst you need to get your career into peak performance.

The global financial crisis, the economic downturn, the recession, the depression – whatever you want to call it – does not necessarily mean doom and gloom for every employee. An economic downturn can actually translate into an advantage for many workers who find ways to recession-proof their careers.

So what can you do to stay in control of your career?

Think about ways to make yourself indispensable at your existing workplace

  • Become the go-to person that everyone knows is a strong performer. Make sure that your contribution has an impact on the bottom line and improve your visibility in the company – the people who add value will be the ones that survive staff cuts.
  • Offer to take on the challenging tasks.
  • Find out what skills are in demand (in the business and in your industry, or beyond your industry) and enrol in a course now.
  • Keep up to date about your industry and other industries that are doing well – Woolworths, for example, is planning to hire 7000 people in 2009.

Be aware of the state of your company

  • Rarely does a business go into decline without some warning. Keep your eyes and ears open and be aware of any possible problems that might mean laying off staff.
  • Find companies and industries that are doing well even during the tough times and find out if your skills and experience will fit with them – smart companies are finding creative ways to recruit and retain staff during the economic financial crisis.

Other ways to keep your career on track

  • Prepare a skills audit and plug any gaps that will make you more employable.
  • Network – in good times and bad, networking can be invaluable as many jobs don’t even make it to and other jobs websites.
  • Be prepared – keep your resume up to date and keep refining the language. Your resume should be a work in progress like yourself and your career.

What industries are thriving?

Even if you are working in an industry that appears to be going down the drain, thinking about your skills set from a different perspective might lead to similar but different work in another industry. Your communication/organisation/business/trade skills might apply to a field that has shortages so keep an eye on industries that are still going strong.

According to new research by the Clarius Group and Link Recruitment, chefs, hairdressers, builders and health professionals continue to be in demand despite the economic downturn. And the aged-care industry is one that has a big future as the population ages.

Tourism, hospitality, construction and community and health services are tipped to be popular training courses this year as many people make themselves work-ready, even if it’s not in the same industry they were in before the global financial crisis became a bigger household name than Brangelina.

CEO of the Australian Association of Graduate Employers, Ben Reeves, says employers know the conditions won’t last forever and that they need to cultivate tomorrow’s managers and skills.

So while times are tight, use your time wisely to shore up your employability and come out stronger on the other side.

Helen Isbister

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