How to Recession-Proof Your Career

Economic uncertainty has led to an increase in the notice of restructuring and cutbacks across industries. The lessons of the Great Recession of 2008 and the COVID shutdowns have shown that anything can happen. Protecting your career during periods of great economic uncertainty is something that can happen with planning. Here are the top tips to recession-proof your career directly from career coaches and recruiters:

Career v. Job

To understand how to recession-proof your career, it is important to first remember the difference between a career and a job. A career is everything you do over your professional life, a path or chosen field. A job, on the other hand, is the way you apply your professional skills for a particular organization to make money.

This difference is important to remember because jobs will come and go over your career - by choice or not. But, your career, or path, is something that you decide and build. This means that you should always strive to recession-proof your career because it will last longer than any recession.

Build Your Credentials

To start recession-proofing your career, you should assess your skills and look for ways to always grow them. For many, this can be completing a degree or certification.  You shouldn't rush into any academic or training program. Instead, look for credentials that advance your goals and that add value to your marketability for the long term.

Not every career requires a college degree and not all certifications are equal. So, carefully evaluate each credential and make sure to pursue the ones that matter. This can pay off at your current job, but also over the course of your career.

Be Strategic

When cutbacks start to happen, it's time to build your career strategy.  This means you need to be clear about your goals, know your value, and have a plan for your career. This can help you weather any storm - economic or otherwise.

Start by evaluating your skills and the future of your organization or industry. Look for the trends and decide how you can make yourself more valuable now and in the long term. Define your professional strategic plan and create a plan to tactically execute your goals. And, as noted above, this could require building your skills or relationships. Whatever it may be, start proactively to avoid being caught unexpectedly in the midst of layoffs.

Stay Focused

In times of uncertainty, it's more important than ever to stay focused on your job and not get stuck doomsday scrolling. For now, your goal should be to keep doing your best at your current job and position yourself as indispensable. This will make you more essential at your current job and less likely to be laid off. Plus, staying focused at your job will enable you to build the relationships that will be key to staying in your current job and over the course of your career.

Take on Growth Opportunities

Applying your knowledge and building your skills through stretch assignments is key to building your professional value. If you're not being challenged at your job, start looking for ways to step up and take on additional responsibilities. These challenges can come in the form of taking on new projects, working with different teams, or learning new technologies.

Pursuing growth opportunities can help you make a case for a promotion or pay raise when the time is right. But, it can also help you recession-proof your career by building the skills that will be in demand over the course of your career.

Build your Unique Value Proposition

While it's important to have a well-rounded skillset, you should also build your niche, or unique value proposition. This combination of your skills, experience, and knowledge makes you unique and valuable in your field. It's what sets you apart from others with similar credentials or professional backgrounds.

Constantly look for ways to build your niche and stay top of mind as the thought leader in your area.  You can do this by taking on projects that allow you to use these skills, pursuing training or education in this area, or networking with others in your field.

The goal is to become an expert in your niche so that you're the go-to person when companies are looking for someone with your specific skillset.

Use Uncertainty as an Opportunity

Although it may not feel like it, times of uncertainty can actually be a great opportunity to advance your career. If you're open to change and willing to seize new opportunities, you may find that this time period brings about positive changes in your career that you never would have thought possible before. So stay open-minded, be proactive, and use this time of uncertainty as an opportunity to improve your career prospects instead of dwelling on all the negative things that could happen.

Update your Resume

A recession-proof career means that you are ready to move to the next job at any time. This requires you to keep an updated resume so you can share it with people when the time is right. Take the time now to update your resume if you haven't lately.

Not have the time to complete your resume? Companies like The Contingent Plan have professional resume writers that would love to help update your resume.

Refresh your LinkedIn profile

Your online presence matters more than most people realize when it comes to looking for jobs.  Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and includes all of your most recent experience.

First, this is because recruiters actually use it to look for people like yourself to fill their open jobs. An incomplete or improperly built profile means that you will not show up in the searches by recruiters. Thus, they can't reach out to you if you aren't visible.

Second, the people in your field can make a huge difference in your career. Take the time to grow your network and engage people. Send out connection invites, join relevant groups, and follow companies you're interested in. This will help you build your network and stay top of mind when opportunities come up.

Not sure where to start with your LinkedIn profile? Our professional profile writers would love to help. Learn more here.

Look at Jobs

Knowing what else is out there is key to knowing your value in your current job.  It's also a key part of being prepared to find a new job if you need to.

Take some time to look at job postings in your field. See what companies are looking for and what they're willing to pay. This will help you understand your worth and what you should be asking for in your current position. It will also help you be prepared to look for a new job if the time comes.

You can use sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, or even Google to find job postings that fit your skillset or identify what skills you are missing.. You can also see what companies are paying for similar roles or, even better, start to create concrete plans for your career.


Your professional network is one of your most valuable assets, so stay connected with them even if you're not actively looking for a new job. Attend industry events, participate in online discussion forums, and connect with old colleagues on LinkedIn. These connections could come in handy if you find yourself out of a job unexpectedly. And who knows? You might even get lucky and hear about a great new opportunity before it's publicly announced!

Be Prepared Financially

During times of economic upheaval, it is important to be prepared financially. The traditional advice is to have an emergency fund that can cover 3-6 months of living expenses in case you lose your job. That's not always possible, but you can start to save and cut back on expenses now to build some savings should you need it.

Uncertainty is a fact of life, but it can be especially difficult to deal with during periods of economic upheaval like we're currently experiencing. If you're worried about losing your job or being unable to find new employment, follow the tips above to help make your career more recession-proof. And remember, while it's important to take precautions during times of turmoil, don't let fear control your life—use this opportunity as a chance to seize new opportunities and advance your career!

Overwhelmed and not sure where to start? Our career experts would love to help. Enter your information below and our team will be in touch to talk about how we may be able to help recession-proof your career.