3 Easy Ways to Recession-Proof Your Career

frustrated or worried woman facing a recession

It’s painful to say it, but we’re in a recession, and for many of us, it’s the second or even third of our professional lives. So many of us are worried about losing our jobs, and it can be easy to act out of fear.

It’s undeniably uncomfortable to be in such a period of uncertainty, but fear won’t save any of us. In fact, it might make us more likely to struggle through this period.

The good news is that there are concrete steps you can take to protect your career during this downturn — and preserve your peace. Here, I’ve outlined my top three action items to recession-proof your career, and they’re all completely doable, low lifts with significant impact.

Over my career, I’ve seen people who manage to stick out rounds of layoffs. They all seem to have one attitude in common.  

1. Keep learning and upskilling to add more value.

When a recession hits, companies often look to make cuts. Employers scrutinize what each employee can bring to the team, including skills, networks, or attitude. That’s why it’s critical that you can show them that you’re increasing your value day after day — cue continuing education.

Professional development doesn’t need to be time-consuming or expensive. YouTube is full of free tutorials to help you upskill, podcasts are usually free, and the tools and programs your company already pays for likely offer educational tutorials or even courses and certifications. 

The key: Tell your boss about your new skill

Want more ways to improve your career straight into your inbox?

Try: “I just listened to a great podcast about SEO, and I put together a little summary of my learnings. I’d love to put some of them into action.”

Of course, this isn’t just advice for a recession. But developing new skills becomes doubly important during leaner times. It’s always a good idea to pursue a culture of continuous improvement so that you can stay relevant in a quickly changing job market.

Should you have a personal website in 2023? Maybe. You really only need one if you have a portfolio to show off. If that’s you, there are ways to save your sanity.


2. Get your online presence going and start networking.

If you end up on the chopping block, you’ll want to recover quickly and land somewhere new right away. That’s why it’s critical to set up your online presence before you’re back on the market — and to build up a network to contact.

To get started, you’ll want a detailed LinkedIn profile. Fill it out thoroughly. Add a picture and each position you’ve held. Include compelling descriptions that highlight your accomplishments and skills. Ask for endorsements and testimonials from co-workers by offering give them a peer review first. You’ll likely start hearing from recruiters on the double.

Should you have a personal website in 2023? Maybe. You really only need one if you have a portfolio to show off. In that case, use a template or drag-and-drop web service, such as Squarespace, to save your sanity. And please, include more than pictures. You’ll need engaging writing about each project, including the client requirements, the process, and the results.

Once you have established your online presence, don’t hesitate to contact people for informational interviews or networking calls! You can always ask someone to meet for a networking coffee — you don’t have to use any pretense beyond wanting to make a professional connection. 

3. Keep your composure. Become known for your positive attitude.

When times are tough, it’s hard to stay upbeat. But let me tell you, keeping your composure will go a long way. Over my career, I’ve seen people who manage to stick out rounds of layoffs. They all seem to have one attitude in common: They don’t traffic in doom and gloom. They stay upbeat, and they motivate their team.  

What’s more: These people stay visible. They take walks around the office and chat with people. They know the security guard’s name. They bring an energy of fun into the office, and they don’t panic. It might seem silly, but someone who people genuinely want to be around is someone more likely to survive a layoff — people will advocate for them to stay. 

Of course, staying peppy in the face of an economic downturn is hard. But I encourage you to maintain a positive attitude at the office and become known for that energy. You may even feel peppier, which we could all use amid a recession.