As economists debate whether a recession is imminent — and how bad it will be — the fear of being fired or not being able to find a job may come to your mind.
Record-high inflation and a spate of high-profile layoffs have workers across the U.S. increasingly concerned about their job security: A recent Insight Global survey of 1,004 adults found that 78% of Americans are Job losses in the coming potential recession are established.
While it may be too early to “read” such forecasts and predict when or if the economy will hit the U.S., “it’s clear that we’re in the midst of a slowdown right now,” Kory Kantenga, senior economist at LinkedIn told Reuters CNBC Make It.
He added that even if economic growth just slowed, the environment could still be “very detrimental” for employees and job seekers.
ZipRecruiter chief economist Julia Pollak says no one is immune from unemployment – but knowing what skills you still need in a downturn can help you stay competitive in a volatile market and adjust your job or industry when needed.
Economists say these are the most “recession-proof” skills companies will hire for during the next recession:
Pollack points out that every recession looks different — for example, during the Great Recession in 2009, some people who lost their jobs in tech or finance turned to restaurants and retail.
But during the Covid-19 recession in 2020, with people staying at home, there are far fewer options for working in these fields. “Every time a recession hits, the backup options change,” Pollack said. “That’s why flexibility is a very critical skill to master.”
To demonstrate your flexibility, please give an example of time you had to work in a different role, function or department in the business; solved a problem on an important project; volunteered to help you with things outside of your normal job responsibilities; Different teams work, suggests economist and Catalant CEO Patrick Petitti, a platform that connects companies with independent advisors.
Highlighting your flexibility skills on your resume can show hiring managers that you’re someone who can “work in uncertain times,” Petitti added, a key skill to develop even in a downturn.
“We have been and will continue to be in turbulent times for the foreseeable future over the past two-plus years,” he said. “Executives expect employees to adapt quickly and not overreact when plans change.”
During a recession, new challenges will inevitably arise — at a time when everything is changing, and companies will look for “people who can identify new problems, define solutions, and move the program forward,” Pollack said.
“It’s one of the top skills companies consistently employ,” Petiti added. “Even in the darkest days of the pandemic, hiring managers in tech, finance, and more are looking for people who can break down goals into actionable steps and guide their teams toward the larger goal.”
Platforms like Coursera and LinkedIn Learning offer project management courses and certifications, but you can also showcase project management skills on your resume (or in an interview) by noting when you led a project from start to finish, helped set a budget, or kicked off a project. For example, a new product or event.
Pollack noted that the ability to communicate clearly and effectively on the job is a universal skill “needed by all industries,” regardless of the state of the economy. “Employers feel that they will never find someone who can write and express their ideas well.”
Mastering the art of communication can help you stand out as a job seeker and land a job in a variety of industries. “Even if you work at a computer all day and report to one person, you need people skills to work in a team and convince employers that your work adds value,” Kantenga said.
Examples of communication skills include presentations, emails, giving feedback and negotiating business deals.
While these three skills can help you survive the next recession, the most important skills, according to Pollack, are following the news and keeping track of which industries are making long-term investments in hiring.
“During a recession, the costs and benefits of different jobs change,” she said. “The decisions you made about your career even two years ago will no longer apply … you want to make sure you’re in a position to be successful in recessions and recovery.”
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