Recession%20Proof.gif

In times such as these, it is temping to look to jobs that are deemed to be “recession proof.” This idea is catered to by the media and reinforced by the fear of unemployment. It is understandable but dangerous. While there are jobs that are not reliant on the spending ability of others, and therefore less susceptible to economic downturn, it is important not to shape your career aspirations around the “hot fields” of the time. That strategy tends to have the same success rate as fad dieting.

To begin with, ever heard of the terms bear and bull markets? Econ 101 tells us the market follows a cyclical pattern. If you let fear be the motivation behind your career decisions, you may find yourself in an unhappy situation when the danger leaves and your motivation disappears with it.

In addition, these careers often require technical training. According to Forbes.com and Time magazine, the top recession proof jobs are in health care and tech. No matter what level you enter in either of these fields, some level of expertise and training is necessary. This means investing time and money – on top of your undergraduate education – into a career that you may not even want.

An alternative strategy to surviving a recession – one that has a better chance of making you happy in the long run – is making yourself indispensable to an employer. If you do not yet have a job, this means proving to the employer that your undergraduate education has given you the skills necessary to be a professional.

The best time to do this is during the interviewing process. Prepare, prepare, prepare, and when you are done preparing, make sure to prepare. This tried and true advice goes beyond informing yourself about the company and practicing your answers. You need to take stock of the first impression you make and how you present yourself. You may have a darn good example of the last time you faced an obstacle in the work place, but if it is interlaced with ums and likes, self-consciousness, or arrogance, it more than likely will not matter. For information on how to prepare, please visit the Career Center website, or make an appointment at the Career Center by e-mail careercenter@lawrence.edu or phone (920)832-6561.

Nailing the interview will exponentially increase your chances of landing a job, but it does not end there. Once you have a job, find your niche. Recognize the central mission of the company and align yourself with it. Focus on keeping your skills up-to-date, relevant, and ahead of the pack. That way, if it comes time to downsize, your boss will look elsewhere. Rather than the job being recession proof, you become recession proof.

Hopefully. However, it is always best to prepare for the worst case scenario, which is where everyone’s favorite activity, networking, comes in to play. This is just as true when the economy is booming, but becomes exponentially more important when it is busting: the easiest way to get a job is to use your contacts. Of course that means you first need to get contacts. Never pass up an opportunity to meet someone new in your field. Whether you are not currently looking for a job or do not see the immediate connection between someone and a job, get their business card anyway – and while you do that, firmly shake their hand, look them in the eye, and reciprocate with your own business card. Also keep in mind all of the contacts you may already have and work on keeping up your relationship with them. For example, after you leave Lawrence routinely check back in with your professors and keep them informed on what you are doing. Professors tend to do a lot of networking and have contacts throughout academia as well as in the professional world. You never know when they will be able to point you in the right direction.

*To access the Career Center’s advice on networking, please use the following link:

http://blogs.lawrence.edu/careercenter/networking/