Always be prepared is the Boy Scout motto. It should also be our career mottos. We never know what life will throw us. Just look at the current situation with COVID-19 and how it is affecting businesses and careers all around the United States and across the globe. It is always best to be prepared. I focus on my career—not my job—with a long-term objective on where I want to go and how I want to grow. This philosophy helps me—and can help you—to be ready for the changes you will experience in life.
Here are 12 action items to recession-proof your career:
1. Build a strong network and keep it alive. One of the best things you can do for yourself and your career is to build a strong network of personal and professional support—people who you can help and who will help you. You can’t just build your network; you also need to keep it alive by keeping in touch with people, being visible, and giving back to those in need.
2. Have a learning mindset and invest in yourself. Keep in touch with your industry and your field. Get involved in your local ATD chapter and other local associations or volunteer groups.. Continue to hone your skill set and learn new skills. As industries and fields change, be ahead of the curve or at least with the curve. Find out what is coming next with your industry and with our field of talent development.
3. Stand out and be visible within and outside of your company. Volunteer for projects within your organization that will provide opportunities for you to be seen and showcase your skills and abilities. Have a social media presence that shows your expertise. Consider writing a blog or regularly post on LinkedIn. Offer to speak at events on your areas of expertise. I have been fortunate enough to be chosen to speak at the ATD International Conference & EXPO four times.
4. Know your company’s priorities so you can determine how you can contribute to them. Set goals that are aligned to the priorities.
5. Educate yourself as to what roles you are interested in internally and externally and plan where you want to go next. Determine what skill gaps you might have and how you can fill those gaps to move toward the next position.
6. Find a mentor within or outside your company who can challenge you, support you, and even pave the way for you in your career.
7. Grow in your collaboration, negotiation, decision making, and problem-solving skills. Challenge yourself to be innovative. Always focus on how you can communicate better. These skills are so important for any industry, in any field, and in any role.
8. Be aware of your weaknesses and play to your strengths. You can only improve in your weaknesses to a certain extent; however, you can grow incrementally in your strengths. Be aware of both and use them to your advantage.
9. Fill a gap no one else at your company or on your team can. Make yourself indispensable.
10. Keep your career toolkit up-to-date. Make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile are always current. Something can change with your present job or you may see a job that you are interested in and you want to be ready to apply. Consider creating a portfolio of your work that showcases your abilities.
11. Attend external conferences, industry events, and professional association meetings. Don’t just focus on your job and your network within the company to the exclusion of external events. If something happens to your job, you won’t have an external network to rely on. ATD has many local chapters, so find one near you and get involved.
12. Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. If you are taking good care of yourself and have a good balance in your life, you will be able to handle life’s challenges and changes.
Ask yourself which of these steps is the most important for you to be prepared and act on it. Don’t wait. Act today.