Whenever the economy looks like it’s about to slow down, it’s completely natural to feel like it’s a safer bet to stick with the job you have, even if it’s not the job you imagined, or the job you want.
In tougher economic times, however, it’s wise to take stock of where you’re at, and look for opportunities to make your career path a more secure and fulfilling one.
To help tackle these challenges, the Director of Student Outcomes at CareerFoundry sat down to answer the biggest questions on how to make your career recession-proof.
- Which jobs and industries are relatively safe in a recession?
- Why is tech one of the top recession-proof industries?
- How can you upskill, avoid becoming stagnant and become more valuable to your employer?
- Is it better to focus on a degree or more practical training?
Ready? Let’s get into it.
Which jobs and industries are relatively safe in a recession?
Most career coaches will tell you that industries and jobs which need to be done, regardless of what else is happening, are safe from the hazards of a bad economy.
Healthcare, law, education, government, and finance are all fields that are independent of the broader economic situation. Trouble is, many of these either require advanced degrees or have other high bars to entry.
What has become clearer and clearer, however, is that one area which is more resistant to recessions is tech/information technology. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, tech-related jobs are projected to continue growing during the next decade.
Taking the time to invest in a career that will carry on offering opportunities in the coming years is a key part of securing your future career growth.
Why is tech one of the top recession-proof industries?
Starting in 2020 with the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw how companies which relied on in-person service delivery and contact struggled to adapt to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.
This meant that more and more companies needed to create and/or improve ways to reach their customers and clients without having to compromise safety. In other words, they needed a digital presence to survive.
Now that things are returning to, if not normal, then a more relaxed approach to social distancing, some companies are discovering the advantages to the digital infrastructure they’d created.
Tech companies aren’t just Meta (Facebook), Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon. Nowadays, every company is a tech company. To be successful in the digital age, a company needs UX and UI designers to create the information architecture and digital presence their business will need to interact with its clients.
It needs full-stack developers to code their platforms, data analysts to identify the relationships between business decisions and outcomes, and digital marketers to reach the widest possible audience.
Recession-proof industries will also need product managers to develop and organize a strategy and vision for the things it produces.
Any company which doesn’t either employ or contract with these tech professionals will be left behind by its more agile competitors.
If you want to recession-proof your career, invest in learning the skills that will be in demand now, next year, and over the next decades.
Look for opportunities to align your new skills with the industries that are essential to a smoothly functioning society:
- Healthcare service delivery will increasingly transition to Electronic Medical Records and tele-medicine, which will require the whole suite of tech professionals to design, create and maintain the platforms they operate on.
- Education service delivery will need to up its game in terms of digital delivery of educational offerings to students at all levels, from primary to post-secondary.
- Banks and insurance companies have already begun the transition to a digital model of client-service. As they continue to make more and more services available digitally, they will continue to need skilled professionals with the know-how to keep their services functional and cutting-edge.
How can you upskill, avoid becoming stagnant and become more valuable to your employer?
Even if you’re happy where you’re at, and have no plans to leave your current employment, it makes sense to invest in your career growth.
Take stock of your company’s core business, and think about how it’s likely to change in the future. Is it a recession-proof industry? What skills will you need to stay competitive and not be replaced?
If your job involves dealing with customer needs, then it makes sense to learn how UX and/or UI design can allow you to better anticipate customer behavior and needs, and create solutions that will allow customers to reach their goals more quickly and easily.
If you work in outreach/sales, then digital marketing and data analytics will allow you to better understand how to connect with your customers. They will also help understand the impact of different offerings on your business.
Finally, in just about every role, learning coding and being able to create the digital infrastructure to support an online business makes sense.
Is it better to focus on a degree or more practical training?
Tech has historically been a field where what you can do is more important than the degree you have. A practical demonstration of your skills and value will be enough to get you in the door.
This doesn’t make it easy: to stand out, your work needs to demonstrate the value you bring to the table.
In a job search, there are no prizes for second-best. Job-seekers and career-changers who take every opportunity to take their learning to the maximum extent, make their portfolios a true reflection of their new skills, and understand how they contribute value to the job they’re after (and aren’t afraid to highlight this at every opportunity), will be valued by employers.
The advantage to a practical, project-based learning experience is that you can do it at your own pace, take the materials and create a portfolio unique to you, and continuously apply your new skills in your current role.
So, there you have it. No matter the current economic challenges, it makes sense to invest in your future.
Jobs in tech will continue to grow, and every company needs to have a digital presence or risk being outpaced by its competitors. Recession-proof industries are also future-proof industries, simply meaning tech skills will stand the test of time.
Having an intimate knowledge of how these jobs affect your company’s bottom line, or how you would apply them in some new opportunity is the way to make sure you stay employed and happy in your career.
Can you really afford not to?