The ongoing recession in the United States has had a strong and lasting impact on most Americans. Nearly everyone knows at least one person who has been affected with job loss, pay and hiring freezes, unemployment, or having to close a business or cut employees to keep their heads above water. The results for some are devastating, as food banks across the nation are reporting an increase in need for their services along with a decrease in support. It’s tough out there, and today’s workers will need to take advantage of every tool available to make themselves recession-proof. Here are five ways of doing just that.
- Earn a college degree. If you never went to college, or started a degree program that you never finished, it might be smart to go back and finish that degree. Many four-year colleges have programs in place for adult students who have completed at least 60 college credits and would like to apply them toward an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree. Evening, weekend, and even online classes are often available to accommodate working students. Why put in the effort? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), people with college degrees have lower rates of unemployment and higher median weekly earnings on average than those who only have a high school diploma.
- Choose an in-demand career. Some careers are better known for weathering recessions than others. When choosing a career, consider not only your own interests, but also the fields that are in demand. For instance, the BLS lists personal care aides; home health aides; biomedical engineers; veterinary technologists and technicians; and meeting, convention, and event planners among its list of fastest-growing occupations. Since people continue to need healthcare services regardless of the economy, careers in healthcare are always in demand, and not all of them require you to work with patients. For instance, medical secretaries and medical billing and coding specialists — which are behind-the-scenes occupations — are both projected to experience job growth over the next 10 years.
- Be willing to move. It’s no secret that some regions of the country have more work available than others, and it’s often easier to find work in the big city than in rural or suburban areas. If you want to have more options when searching for a job or in the event that you lose your job, consider relocating to an area with a healthier economy, lower unemployment rate, and more job options overall. The Wall Street Journal chronicled the trend of job-seekers relocating or establishing an address in the city in which they’re trying to find work so that recruiters will consider them more desirable as a local candidate.
- Prepare for the worst. If you are currently employed in this economy, count your blessings, but don’t assume you’re safe from the threat of lay-offs. Many people who have lost their jobs had no warning before they found themselves with a pink slip in their hand. Start an emergency fund with a goal of saving at least three months’ worth of living expenses in the event that you lose your job. In fact, some financial experts recommend saving six months’ worth of living expenses because of the length of time it often takes to find work again.
- Make yourself indispensable. While some lay-off decisions are out of employers’ control, some are made because the employee isn’t adding anything valuable to the company. Instead of taking your job for granted by putting in the least amount of effort to get the job done, go above and beyond by contributing ideas that will benefit the organization, taking on new responsibilities, and asking your immediate supervisor for new challenges. In addition, show up to work on time and avoid earning a reputation as a flake by not making a habit of calling in to work at the last minute. This way, when your employer has to make staffing cuts, he or she will be less likely to select you for a lay-off due to your superior work ethic.
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