The inverted yield curve. Slowing GDP growth. Declining manufacturing growth. Falling interest rates.

What if a recession actually happens? Can you handle it? How will your career fare?

There’s a lot of talk, predictions and speculation about an upcoming recession. And many of the signs aren’t looking too good.

[Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to focus on preparing for and thriving in the midst of an economic recession. Discussing the economical forces and mechanics is not within scope of this post.]

In a normal world, when you have some cash to lend (via a bond), you’ll tend to get a higher interest rate for lending it over a longer period of time (long-term bonds) over a shorter period of time (short-term bonds). This makes sense because you will need to be rewarded for letting go of your cash for a longer length of time.

Now look at the following graph.

Image may contain: possible text that says 'An inverted yield curve usually signals trouble Historically, when the yield on 10-year Treasury bonds dips below the yield for 2-year bonds, a recession has followed. 3 pct. points Recession Curve 2 inverts o -1 -2 1980 1990 2000 Note: Only the first inversion preceding a recession is marked. Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve, Wells Fargo Investment Institute 2010 2019 THE WASHINGTON POST'

 

If we look at historic economic trends, whenever the bond yield curve inverts (i.e. when the interest rate you get for a short term bond is higher than that of a long-term bond — which should be the other way around in a normal world), the stock market contracts or crashes about 12-15 months, depending on the sources.

The red circles show when the curve inverted and the grey sections indicates the following recession period.

The recent yield curve inversion last happened on March 2019.

Which means that a recession could happen 12-15 months from March 2019, which is between March – June 2020.

Analysts and economists mention things like stocks being overpriced/overvalued, too much money being pumped into the system, too much debt, etc.

On top of that, there are several other events around the world that could impact/threaten the global economy and further add to the existing uncertainty:

  • Wuhan Coronavirus
  • Post-Brexit
  • Trade wars between the U.S. and China.
  • Tension between the U.S. and Iran.
  • Natural disasters

Better to be prepared for a recession and have it NOT happen, than to not be prepared and have the recession happen.

On the employment front, one or a variety of these could occur:

  • Companies laying off staff.
  • Companies putting halt on hiring and salary increases.
  • Companies reducing the working hours of staff.
  • Companies getting staff to do more with the same amount of resources.
  • Companies resorting to automation to reduce costs and increase productivity.

And be prepared to see these as well:

  • Businesses closing down (Just half a month into 2020, 161 brick-and-mortar stores in Australia have already been marked for closure.)
  • A sense of dread and sombreness in the atmosphere
  • Negativity being perpetuated in the news

Despite these, all is not lost and there is always hope.

Here are 10 ways to ensure that your career is able to not only survive, but thrive, in the event of an economic recession.

1. Decide to succeed and prosper no matter what

This is the most important point and if missed, the rest of the techniques and strategies won’t matter after all.

Make the commitment that you will thrive and prosper in ALL conditions and circumstances.

If times are good, you need to do well and accumulate surpluses.

If times are tough, you need to keep pushing forward, overcoming challenges and seizing the opportunities along the way.

The reason why a definite decision is so important is because if you don’t make a resolution during peacetime, the mind will tend to resort to fear or escape during wartime.

Remember that the body cannot go where the mind hasn’t been.

If you haven’t made the decision to thrive when times are okay, your mind would find it hard to think strategically when crisis hits and will likely default to a fight-or-flight response – which is the exact reason why untrained individuals panic and go into a frenzy during an emergency.

Make that decision.

2. Identify and map your professional assets

Take stock of your professional assets including your:

  • Transferable skills
  • Knowledge
  • Qualifications
  • Relevant experience
  • Connections
  • Evidence of previous work (portfolio)

Have a good grasp of what you’ve achieved in your career thus far and be aware of what you are really capable of.

Once you have a clear idea of the tools and resources you have, it’ll be easier to identify possible pathways and opportunities in the midst of a crisis.

3. Update your professional profile

Ensure that your professional profile – resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile – is up to date and good to go.

This goes hand in hand with mapping your professional assets, so that in the event where you have to seize a new opportunity or apply for a new job, you are ready for it.

It also pays to have a look at some of the jobs available in the market to get a feel of where you stand and what you can apply for.

4. Develop and tap into your professional network

Ideally, you should be adding value and cultivating your professional network even before you enter the workforce and even before a recession hits.

A strong professional network and a differentiated professional profile will ensure that you have a robust personal brand and value proposition.

They say that it’s not what you know, but who you know. But if you really want to go to the next level, you’ll need to consider who knows you as well.

Be proactive in adding tremendous value to your professional contacts and do not hesitate if you need to reach out to your network for help.

When you have the right intentions, people are usually happy to assist in anyway they can.

5. Explore cross-functional value adding

We can all agree that we live in a world of change and disruption.

Change is something that can be feared by the untrained, the unprepared and the mediocre. Because anything that shakes the status quo tends to threaten their world.

However, successful people see that change is the only constant and within change lie a multitude of opportunities.

Imagine you are a car salesman at a dealership.

The common employee will just see himself as a salesperson and nothing else.

The customer comes in. I greet them. I show them around. I find out their needs. I show them what’s available. I handle any concerns. I take care of the paperwork and finance. I see them off in their brand new car.

That’s straightforward but is the perfect formula for mediocrity.

Instead of just seeing myself as a car salesman, there are some additional complementary skillsets I could acquire to increase my value to my employer:

  • Customer Experience and Process Improvement. Is it easy for the customer to visit us? Do we have sufficient car spaces for customers? Are they greeted as soon as they step in? How many steps does it takes for them to make a purchase? How long does it take to get finance approved?
  • Data Science and Analytics. Based on my experience, what time and what day attracts the most customers? Which are the most popular models? Is there a correlation between a particular customer metric (age, gender, marital status, family size, perceived income level) to the type of purchase?
  • Psychology. What are customers really looking for? What are their deepest desires and fears? Are they really making a rational purchase? Are they buying it for functional reasons or to make a statement? How do I handle customer objections and complaints?
  • Finance and Mathematics. Based on what the customer tells me about their expected usage of the vehicle, am I able to estimate their petrol and insurance costs and work out if they are able to be approved for finance?

6. Lay out your retrenchment plan

If you can hold onto your job unscathed, be very thankful, because many others might lose their roles partially or wholly.

To mitigate this risk, write down exactly what you’ll do in the event you are laid off or retrenched.

Example:

  • Step 1: Get resume and cover letter ready.
  • Step 2: Apply for the roles which I’ve previously bookmarked.
  • Step 3: Search up on relevant industry and networking events, and attend them.
  • Step 4: Reach out to contacts the industry and ask if they know of any available opportunities around them.
  • Step 5: Read up on trends and developments in the industry.
  • Step 6: Brush up on any applicable technical skill.

7. Get your finances and emergency fund in order

Whether you get laid off or not and whether we’re in an economic boom or bust, we still live on an economic planet.

There are bills to be paid.

You want to have sufficient financial resources to be able to cover your necessities should you be rendered jobless, so that you can focus on getting through the job application well, rather that worrying about your bills and expenses.

Having additional financial stress during a tough period is something which you want to minimise as much as possible.

8. Develop global-mindedness and look at what’s beyond the horizon

To the shortsighted man, the recession was sudden and came upon him like a rude awakening.

To the global-minded and hyper-aware man, he saw the recession coming and already knew how to ride the wave and seize the opportunities that came with it.

Which person do you want to be?

Having foresight is one of the best protection and preventative measures you can have against disruption, which leads to the next point.

9. Identify opportunities within the challenges

Example 1: If you are a train driver, and you have been reading about the application of AI in self-driving vehicles, you should be concerned. Because that technology can be transferred to trains which can potentially put train drivers out of a job.

Solution 1: Learn how to program and implement the AI and self-driving technology and pick up skills in fleet management. That will increase your career defences.

Example 2: You are working as an accountant and you’ve heard about other accounting firms looking into ways to automate their processes. If you don’t do anything, you are leaving your career in a vulnerable position.

Solution 2: Find out more and dig deeper into this automation software which many people are fearful about. Dig deeper. Does it really take away jobs or does it augment existing roles? Learn how it works and even put yourself forward to do a pilot test in your company as part of a proposal to increase productivity through digital process automation. Merge tech with accounting. Develop yourself to become as expert in this automation technology.

10. Have a great attitude and keep moving forward

Despite whatever happens around you, remind yourself that:

  • Within challenges lie opportunities.
  • There is never a shortage of success and opportunities.
  • Tough times are temporal.
  • You can shine in all circumstances.
  • We shall prevail.

The person who walks into a circumstance with awareness, perspective, a great attitude and the right mentality will thrive and prosper.

The others will survive at best. Many will fail and stumble, and many will panic and become hysterical.

Whatever happens, do not ever give up. Just put one foot ahead of the other and keep moving forward.

Do let me know your thoughts and if there’s anything I can help with. All the best!

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