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How to Prepare for the Next Recession

Topics: Career Advice
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Is a recession on the horizon? No one knows for sure what’s around the corner when it comes to the economy. But, what is certain is that things won’t stay the same forever.

The economy and the job market have their ups and downs. The best plan is to be prepared for whatever might come your way. Here’s how to minimize the impact of a recession on your finances, career goals and professional progress.

Indicators that a recession could be on the way 

Unfortunately, there are reasons to believe that we could be headed for a recession. Some indicators of recession are “flashing red,” according to analysis presented in a recent article from CNBC. Here are just a few of the warning signs they’ve highlighted.

  • Manufacturing Slowdown. The U.S.-China trade war may be having an impact on the manufacturing industry, which slowed to its lowest level of growth in almost 10 years this past August.
  • GDP Growth Rate. The U.S. gross domestic product growth rate is slowing down. It was 2% in the second quarter. This is down from 3% growth during the first quarter.
  • Bond Market. “The bond market phenomenon” is when short-term bonds deliver a higher yield than long-term bonds. When things are working the way they should, long-term bonds carry a higher interest rate than short-term bonds. When the yield curve inverts, it can signal a recession. In fact, this occurred before the seven last recessions.
  • Business Spending. The second quarter saw private domestic investment fall by 5.5%. This is the lowest it’s been since the fourth quarter of 2015.
  • Gold Prices. Gold is a popular investment during economic contractions. The fact that gold prices have climbed more than 20% since May (when the tariff fight escalated between the U.S. and China) isn’t a great sign.

According to The Washington Post, economists surveyed by Bloomberg say there’s a 35% chance of recession within the next 12 months. That’s up from 15% last year, based on median estimates.

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How to minimize the impact on your career

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1. Be mentally prepared

As with so many things in life, getting your head straight is essential when it comes to preparing for a potential recession. Worrying, blaming and feeling angry at others or at the circumstances in general isn’t going to help you. Instead, focus on just taking it one thing at a time. There’s no real way to prepare for every possible scenario. Resign yourself to taking it as it comes.

It’s essential to manage your anxiety and your stress, especially if a recession really does hit. If you’re well-rested and just generally taking good care of yourself, it will help you make good choices and be at your best.

2. Save

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Focusing on building up your savings account is a great way to prepare for the next recession. Conventional wisdom states that, ideally, you should have at least enough to cover six months of expenses in your savings account for an emergency fund. Most Americans don’t have anything close to this much stashed away. In fact, the majority of adults (58%) have less than $1,000 in their savings account.

“It’s always concerning when a large part of the population is seemingly living paycheck to paycheck because when unexpected personal or financial hardships occur, it can be challenging to recover without adequate savings,” said Jack Thacker, head of consumer deposits and payments at TD Bank, in an interview with Yahoo Finance.

Saving is no easy feat. But, the consequences of not putting much aside could be pretty dramatic if and when the next recession hits. So, consider making saving money a bigger priority if you really want to be prepared.

3. Take all of your eggs out of that one basket

One of the keys to weathering a recession successfully is not to be too dependent on any one source of income. If you have multiple income streams, rather than just one, you’ll be a little more insulated from potential challenges. You’ll have a bigger problem on your hands if something changes with your employment, if all of your money comes from one full-time job. But, if you have several sources of income, that diversification will help protect you.

Plus, there are other good reasons to consider taking on something like a side gig, if you have the time. First of all, you’ll be able to increase your savings more rapidly. It might also help you meet new people from your industry, and develop new connections. And, you’ll probably learn a lot, too.

4. Be unique

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Yes, hiring managers seek certain skills when trying to fill a role. These typically include hard skills that enable you to carry out the basic tasks associated with your job, e.g. UX design or people management, and the soft skills that make you more effective at work, like communication or problem solving.

However, one of the best ways you can prepare for the next recession is to be unique. Ask yourself what you can you do to stand out (in a good way) at work. After all, if the boss sees you as indispensable, it will go a long way to recession-proof your job there.

Similarly, do your best to cultivate positive and easy relationships at work. Be consistent and relatable, whether working with colleagues, bosses or clients.

5. Learn something new

Learning new skills, and sharpening the ones you already have, is an ongoing process. You shouldn’t stop growing once you’re done with school. Especially in our ever-changing world, it’s important to keep up. New technologies mean that things are always moving and changing fast.

LinkedIn’s list of the skills companies value most in 2019 highlights the hard and soft skills employers seek right now. Consider the top three from each list.

Soft skills: 

  • Creativity. Creativity is a uniquely human skill. Investing time and energy toward improving this ability within yourself can help guard against threats from automation.
  • Persuasion. Having a great product or service is one thing. Being able to talk about it is another.
  • Collaboration. Workers come together from all over the globe these days, and they have to work as a team to solve increasingly complex challenges. Therefore, being an excellent collaborator is more and more important for job success.

Hard skills: 

  • Cloud computing. The demand for engineers who can help companies utilize cloud computing strategies effectively is growing.
  • Artificial intelligence. AI is an increasingly important component of many jobs and industries. If you have the skills to work with these technologies, it’s a professional advantage.
  • Analytical reasoning. Companies are hungry for individuals who can help them make the best use of all the data they’re collecting these days. So, analytic reasoning skills are more valuable than ever.

6. Network

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Spending some time and energy investing in your professional network is a wise move if you’re worried about the potential for another recession. Is your profile up-to-date? Have you shared any posts or new ideas online lately to let your contacts know what you’re up to? Investing a little time online now could pay off later.

You never know when you might need to a connection to refer you to a job or provide you with a recommendation. Make that coffee date with a former coworker. Stop by that happy hour with your old teammates. Attend that college meetup the next time it’s hosted in your city.

Investing some time and effort into professional networking certainly isn’t going to hurt you. Even if there isn’t another recession in the next few years, you’ll likely be glad you did it. You never know what personal or professional benefits may come from these kinds of connections.

7. Don’t fear

Or at least, try not to dwell on your fears. Instead, stay present in the moment and stay focused on doing the best you can each day. Knowing that you’re doing a few things to help you get ready for the next recession, just in case, should help put your mind at ease.

Looking for a new job before the next recession hits? Find out how much you could be earning. Take the PayScale Salary Survey and get a free salary report in minutes.

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