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In light of the fifth anniversary of the Great Recession (and subsequent slow recovery), it’s worth taking a look at how you might avoid possible career detriment in the future. As history has taught us, the economy will continue to ebb and flow, so taking steps to solidify your employability can help you, your career and your finances to remain stable.
In the book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Recession-Proof Careers, Clark Havener points out that “Recessions present new challenges but also new opportunities. And it calls on both experienced workers and those first entering the workforce to develop new skills that safeguard them from the vagaries of a shifting economy and enable them to compete in a global economy.” Aside from additional education and training, what are some of the things you can do to increase your chances of success during uncertain times?
Be nice. It sounds so simple, but it goes a long way. Knowing the janitor’s name and having a brief conversation with the cook in the cafeteria demonstrates that you keep your ego in check and can get along with anyone. “Over time, your reputation is the most valuable currency you have in business. It’s the invisible key that either opens or closes doors of professional opportunity,” says Forbes. It’s inevitable to be mentioned when you’re not in the room – how do you want to come across?
Stay positive. While it’s certainly a cliché, there’s a reason for that. It’s incredibly powerful to be a positive-thinking person – not only does it ease your job search if you’re unemployed, it creates a magnetic quality that employers love to see. “…you can control the actions that you take and how you react to positive and negative experiences. And those are powerful factors in determining the directions your life takes,” says the book Luck is No Accident: Making the Most of Happenstance in Your Life and Career. Prospective or current employers can see that ability in their candidates and employees. Everyone has experienced the wrath of a pessimist, and the draining after-effects of working with them. Having a generally positive attitude makes it easy for colleagues to be around you; when it comes down to it, which type of person do you think an employer will keep during cutbacks or hire during an upswing?
Be proactive. Whether you’re working or searching, it is crucial to maintain all of your career-oriented stuff. Keep your résumé and online portfolio up-to-date, filling in each accomplishment, course, or seminar at your current job as you move along. Then, if you find yourself a victim of one of those pesky “ebb” periods, you’ll be ready to go. Waiting until that moment hits only ups the pressure and stress that comes along with a forced career change, and wastes precious job-searching time. Additionally, remembering the details of your business conference from three years ago might not be as easy as you think.
Remain at the forefront. “When management is in meetings with you, they take notice of the contributors. Leaders are not silent in meetings,” says Careerealism.com. Speak up, add ideas, ask for tough assignments, offer to help. Requesting performance reviews are another great way to not only “force” your boss to notice you and the work you’ve been doing, but it will also provide some critical feedback that you can put to good use. During uncertain economic times, employment should not be approached as a license to disappear into a sea of cubicles.