Recession-proof your career

Posted October 13, 2011, by Helen Isbister

Employers are starting to feel the vicious bite of the global financial crisis and many are cutting back on costs and staff. Don't panic, but do prepare yourself so you're not the first to go if your company decides to downsize.

If you have a feeling your job could be on the chopping block, then get pro-active to either save it from redundancy or jump ship before the company goes under. You might not be able to recession-proof your specific job, but you can definitely recession-proof your career!

Be indispensable

This is the time to shine more than ever before. While a year ago you might have been arriving early and putting your hand up for extra assignments in the hope of a pay rise and promotion, now it's all in the name of keeping your fingers tightly clasped around your security pass. Make your work bigger and better, then indulge in a little self-promotion so your stunning results don't escape the boss's attention.

Don't be a business expense

The bottom line is at the forefront of the boss's mind right now, so demonstrate that you are personally keeping profits as high as possible. Pinch pennies, cut costs and generate sources of revenue so that the boss will see you as a money saver rather than a business expense. Minimise the bells and whistles on your projects and go easy on cab charges so that they don't begin to think of you as an unnecessary cost just waiting to be cut.

It's all about attitude

Whingeing about extra hours, a less-than-impressive pay review and company stinginess will only fast-track your road to redundancy. The last thing the boss wants is a morale-killer lurking in the office and they might even think they are doing you a favour by giving you the boot. Remember that any stinginess might be out of necessity rather than cruelty, so you are just going to have to grin and bear it for the time being.

Update your skills

Keep building skills that add value to you as an employee. It doesn't take the latest technology to figure out that someone who is up-to-date and useful across different areas of the business won't be the first one shown the door. If your current job is not salvageable, no matter how many extra skills you have tallied up, then at least hunting for a new gig will become a whole lot easier with your bulked-up resume.


Don't wait for the redundancy slip to make its way onto your desk before you start schmoozing, catching up with old colleagues and lunching with interesting new contacts. There is no point rallying your contacts in a time of crisis when you haven't been there in the good times. Make a list of at least 10 business contacts and start locking in times to catch up. They might find you a brilliant new job sooner than expected, be able to help you out if things go bust at your current employer or, at the very least, be fun to have a drink with.

Keep an eye out

Keep your resume fresh, keep your eyes peeled for job ads and call back those headhunters. It pays to always be one step ahead of the game and, if you are going to have to start a job search, it's good to be aware of what's out there. That said; don't jump too soon. If you know a new job could be waiting in the wings, it's definitely worth picking up a solid redundancy payout on the way out the door.

Get a job where there is a skills shortage

While some industries, including retail, manufacturing, finance and technology, are vulnerable during recessions, some industries survive (even thrive) in the downtimes. Resources industries are still in the grip of a skills shortage, which means not only will you be able to land yourself a job but a very decent salary to go along with it. Despite a slowdown in residential construction, builders, plumbers and other tradies are still in high demand on commercial projects. Health and education are resilient regardless of economic growth or decline. Australia's ageing population means the need for careworkers and nurses is rising, and teachers are always in demand.

Helen Isbister

AIM Business School
All Health Training
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