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How To Find A Job During A Recession

Mar 31, 2020

It’s always a little overwhelming to be doing a job search. Whether you just graduated with a degree or are just looking for a new job or career, it can be stressful to be on the job hunt. And an added layer of stress comes when the economy is on a downturn and jobs are more scarce. But in times of high unemployment, you don’t need to freak out about a job search. You just need a plan to help you land a job in spite of the employment market. This guide will help you know what you can do to get a job in spite of an economic downturn or recession.

Consider growth industries.

When there is an economic downturn or recession, some industries will stop hiring as many workers. But there are many industries that are considered growth industries, that will always need more workers to function well. Think about what services will always be needed and get into those industries. Construction and retail often see layoffs and struggles during a recession. But there are many industries that are always in high-demand and may even see growth during a recession. Sometimes called recession-proof jobs, these industries usually continue hiring workers no matter what the market. These recession-proof industries include:

  • Business

  • Information technology

  • Energy

  • Healthcare

  • Government 

  • Legal (attorneys)

  • Research and development

  • Education

If you’re not currently in one of these recession-proof industries, it can be smart to do what you can to move into one of them and get a more recession-proof job. And an online degree could be the perfect way to help you do it. Here at WGU we offer degrees in 4 of the major growth industries that are often fairly safe during a recession. Business, information technology, healthcare, and teaching are all industries that have a high-demand even in an economic downturn. You can continue to work in your current job while getting a degree that will help propel you into a different field. Or if you’re out of work, you can focus on quickly earning your degree. WGU degrees are fully online and you can do them at a pace that works for you. You can move through your degree program as quickly as you master the material, so you can be on the path to your new career sooner than you think.

If you want to focus on moving to a different industry, getting a degree can be the perfect place to start. You need training and education to help you be prepared and competitive in a new field, and WGU can help you get there.

Focus on the company and job skills, not the job title.

In an economic downturn or recession, it’s smart to stop focusing on specific job titles. Instead, spend more time thinking about the company and the skills the job will require. You want to apply to a company that you trust and are excited about. Search for a company that is steady and can withstand economic or financial concerns. Make sure that they have a mission you can get behind and that they really care about their employees. The company you choose during hard times for the economy is vital to your future career.

Similarly, the specific job title you apply for doesn’t matter as much as the job skills they are looking for. While higher level jobs may be harder to find and apply for during a recession, the skills a job needs can be important for your career. Find a job that you can grow with, that allows you to really showcase your talents, and that allows you to be an integral part of the team. When you find a job that requires lots of skills, it means that you’ll be a much more vital hire for the organization. Read job descriptions carefully and focus more on what the daily responsibilities of the job will be instead of the actual job title. This may mean that you “move backward” in terms of specific job titles—from a senior manager to a manager or from an analyst to a specialist—but that’s OK. Find a job that you can bring a lot of your talent to, and one that can help you grow and will give you meaningful experiences. No matter what the title, it can be a huge win.

Step outside your comfort zone.

When there aren’t as many jobs available, you may have to step outside your comfort zone and consider applying to different companies and industries. Take your talents to a nonprofit, startup, or government organization. There are many benefits to thinking outside the box and getting outside your comfort zone. While it can be scary to try and make a leap, in a time when there aren’t as many jobs available, these out-of-the box opportunities may be crucial to your future. This tip can help you become a hire for a job you didn't expect, but one that you love. 

You’ll also need to be flexible with what you do every day. In an economic downturn, there may be less people to do the same amount of work. You may need to be prepared to wear multiple hats. For example, a newly hired manager may need to do some financial reporting, account management, and help with employee responsibilities. A teacher may need to step outside of their comfort zone and take on an extra responsibility as a student body advisor or extra-curricular activity chair. A nurse may need to become a mentor or advisor for the CNAs on staff and help do trainings for new nurses. In an economic downturn, the best thing you can do is be prepared to step outside your comfort zone and get to work.

Network, network, network!

Your network will become even more important for your job search during economic hard times. In a recession, traditional job application tactics will likely not work. Doing a Google search or scanning a job site and applying to dozens of jobs with the same traditional résumé usually won’t cut it. You’ll need to utilize your network more than ever to help you get an inside tip about a job.

Talk to your friends and family about their jobs and industry. Don’t feel uncomfortable reaching out and asking them if they know of any opportunities—it’s important for you to be able to find a job and their help can be invaluable. You can also utilize social media like LinkedIn and Facebook to connect with acquaintances and friends and see if there are job opportunities that they know about.

Utilize contacts from previous jobs, networking opportunities from your university, and even friends of friends! All of these connections could help you make an important contact that could lead to a job interview, or better yet, a job! 

You can also utilize recruiters to help you land a job. You can search on LinkedIn for a recruiter and email or message them. You can also see if a company you're interested in has a dedicated recruiter to work with. You might also find freelance consultant recruiters who are dedicated to helping you. Your recruiter will likely take a percentage of your salary for the first year as their compensation, but some are willing to be paid their fee up-front.

Make sure your résumé and cover letter stand out.

While it’s great to use your network to help you learn about job opportunities, your résumé and cover letter will have to speak for themselves. Create a resume and cover letter specifically for each individual job that you apply for. It will be a lot of work, but it will be well worth it. Different companies want different things from candidates, so looking at the specific skills they searching for and highlight your most relevant experience will help them see why you’re a good fit. You want your resume to clearly show that you can give meaningful, measurable results and that you are a perfect candidate for this specific job. Especially during a recession when job opportunities are few and far between, you want your resume to really pack a punch.

Look at the job listing carefully and identify keywords that are important to the job. Utilize those keywords inside your resume to really make it clear that you can meet the needs of the job. Make sure your resume is scannable, but also has the details that can set you apart from other potential candidates. It’s also crucial to have other people look over your resume to give you feedback, and double check for any spelling or grammatical errors. Small typos and errors can make your resume seem very unprofessional and discount your experience.

Work hard to make sure the design of your resume is solid. Simple, readable text, easy sections, and one page layout are all crucial elements of a solid resume. Utilize templates to help you see what kind of style is best, and then customize it and really make it your own. 

Stay positive.

It can be easy to get discouraged when you’re job hunting, especially when there aren’t lots of jobs available. But don’t let rejections or frustration get the best of you! The perfect job is out there, and you can find it. Stay positive and stay hopeful. New jobs come available every day and one of them will be the right fit for you. Keep working, searching, networking, and perfecting your resume to help you stand out and land a great job that will propel your career.

If you’re concerned about finding a job in a recession, now is a great time to get skills for a growth industry that will stay valuable during a downturn. WGU offers degree programs in important growth industries, and could be your ticket into being ready for a great job. Learn more about WGU degrees today and find one that will help you land your dream job.

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