You Can Build Career Resilience (Even While in a Recession) — 10 Ways to Do It

a woman holding papers at work


Jessica Howington for FlexJobs
Jessica Howington for FlexJobs
May 30, 2024 at 1:24PM UTC
Economic trends can quickly and easily impact our jobs and career trajectories. And given the current economic climate, mapping out next steps is getting harder and less certain.
With growing economic uncertainty, more job seekers are communicating concerns about the impacts on their career decisions and job security. In fact, according to a recent FlexJobs survey, 74% of respondents stated that recession fears are already playing a role in their decisions, including whether to look for a new job. And 39% of U.S. workers are worried about job security, with 11% stating they are “very worried.”
Despite the worries and uncertainty, there are a few steps professionals can take to help build career resilience. Below, we’ve outlined the best practices.

1. Own your success.

It can be easy to rely on a company or employer for personal and professional success when it comes to a career path, but taking ownership of your career and personal brand is where success is found. Charting a personal path of career growth and success gives you enormous power to not only set impactful goals but achieve them as well.

2. Focus your search.

While hiring may slow during economic downturns, hiring doesn’t stop completely. Narrowing your job search to focus on companies that are actively hiring and recruiting can prove successful. For example, target companies that are currently hiring and have strong posting histories.
You can also focus your search on companies that meet work flexibility needs, such as those embracing permanent remote work; companies with part-time, remote jobs; or companies that hire for work-from-anywhere jobs. 

3. Plan your finances.

While working from home can save you money, economic uncertainty, such as inflation and recession fears, can still be an area of concern for remote workers. Getting your finances in order and monitoring your daily expenses can help alleviate some of the uncertainty when it comes to day-to-day household finances. Assessing current and long-term financial goals can also help you determine where to cut back or when to consider supplemental income.

4. Highlight your achievements.

Confidence can take a dive when stress goes up, which is common when looking for work. To counteract this, highlight your wins and achievements to spotlight your greatest attributes. Not only will this help build confidence to navigate an unstable hiring market, it can also help you communicate your strengths to potential employers.
And if you’re unsure what your strengths, wins, and achievements are, reach out to others in your life and network. Getting a letter of recommendation from a respected boss, colleague, or client can give you a confidence boost and communicate your value to potential employers.

5. Manage your social media.

Getting social is highly beneficial for finding job opportunities and making connections. Additionally, recruiters are known for using social media to seek out candidates, as well as learn more about potential hires.
Make sure you update your social profiles (or lock down your personal ones!) with your latest skills, education, and experience. But you can’t stop there. Make sure your profile shares your story, who you are, and why you’re an expert in your area. Then, engage with others across digital platforms to make the biggest impact on your search prospects.

6. Find your hustle.

A side hustle, especially during tough economic times, can help insulate professionals from financial instability. Supplementing income and savings with a side gig can help keep you afloat if you happen to be part of a layoff. Side hustles are also more recession-proof. When economic conditions are less stable, it’s not uncommon for companies to turn to freelancers over hiring a full-time or part-time employee.

7. Prioritize your mental health.

Economic stress can have a huge impact on mental health. Prioritizing your mental health and growing your resiliency can help in adapting to difficult situations. Work to develop work-life boundaries and engage in hobbies and personal activities to help keep you balanced. By taking care of your mental health, you can cope more readily with challenges and face issues that may unexpectedly arise, and it helps to build grit.

8. Engage your network.

Networking is more than collecting a follow or contact information. It’s a detailed method of knowing where to network, who to network with, and how to do so confidently and effectively. This is no different in the event of an economic downturn. Make sure you prepare by staying active within your current network, as well as by actively expanding it. Then, if unfortunate circumstances arise, you can utilize your network to engage in new opportunities.

9. Volunteer your time.

Personal circumstances can easily take over, but volunteering can help to alleviate some of the fear and anxiety experienced during economic downturns. Not only can giving your time to others prove to be a great way to gain the experience that employers want, but it can also help communicate the story of who you are and what you believe in, which helps in your job search.

10. Expand your knowledge.

Taking charge of your career development requires a commitment to expanding your knowledge and being a lifelong learner. And this can come in many forms. Within your current role or employer, you can work to take on new tasks or projects to gain new skills or hone existing ones. Outside of the workplace, you can seek out professional development courses, webinars, and training. Fortunately, there are a number of courses that can be found online for free!

Be resilient, find success.

While economic trends are often out of anyone’s control, there are a number of ways professionals can safeguard themselves to weather what may come. From preparing your job search and finances to engaging your time and caring for your mental health, you can lessen the personal and professional impacts.
This article originally appeared in FlexJobs. FlexJobs is the leading career service specializing in flexible work, providing the largest database of vetted remote and flexible job listings. To support job seekers in all phases of their journey, FlexJobs offers a range of services including expert advice, job search events, and career coaching. FlexJobs also works with leading companies to recruit quality remote talent and optimize their remote and flexible workplace.

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