You’ve likely heard the whispers lately—that ugly word is starting to rear its head again. Recession. It’s enough to send chills down your spine, especially if you remember how tough things were in 2008.
I’m not a financial analyst or economist, and I’m not here to confirm or deny that tight economic times are imminent—I’ll leave that to the experts.
However, I’ve been working in the recruiting industry long enough to know that all bubbles burst eventually. The super hot tech company will lose it’s shine. We’ll swing from a candidate’s market to an employer’s market and back again. The tides of the economy will rise and fall. Thinking back just 10 years, most of the giants in software from that time are no longer in play, let alone the household names they used to be.
Economies rise and fall, and so do companies. You never really know when a line of business will get scrapped, or when downsizing is imminent, or when a company that looks profitable from the outside is on the verge of going bankrupt.
So what does this mean for the average employee? I recommend that you think about the ways that you can stay ready, so that you don’t have to get ready if the worst happens. Here are the tips that I often find myself recommending to candidates to make sure that they stay viable in the market.
Stop moving around if it’s in your control.
In a candidate’s market, there’s a lot of noise in the market. People are jumping from job to job, chasing more money. The opportunities are there, why not grab them?
The most sought after employees are the ones who have achieved quantifiable results. Focus on smashing your quota, on releasing product in market, on impacting the business outcomes you can control. Whatever your KPIs are—go get them!
If the market turns, the first people to lose their jobs are often the ones who haven’t accomplished anything, or demonstrated their value in concrete ways. When the market turns from a candidate driven market to an employer driven market, the candidates who will get picked up the fastest are those with a track record and with successes.
So if you’ve been jumping around, or haven’t been able to fully realize your potential in your role, it’s time to focus and really double down on achieving those results.
Keep track of your accomplishments.
While you’re working on achieving those results, make sure that you keep track of them (in a place that isn’t your company’s dashboards). Do you know your quota attainment numbers from the past two years? How have your Product Manager skills contributed to reducing churn or improving adoption?
Plenty of people have made the mistake of assuming that they don’t need to keep their resume up to date with their recent accomplishments—and then wind up scrambling, or using inaccurate metrics on their resumes.
Set yourself two calendar reminders right now: one at the end of each month, and one at the end of each quarter. Spend 15 minutes listing your accomplishments (with metrics), and keep those notes in a secure place.
Best case scenario, you’ll have a detailed track record to share with your current boss when it’s time to re-negotiate your comp plan. Worst case scenario, you’ll be ahead of other job seekers, and have a list of metrics to share in an interview.
Don’t neglect your network.
Take the time to stay in touch with former colleagues and employers, attend industry events, and build your personal brand online. Remember that most people get jobs through their networks—and if you find yourself needing a job, you’ll be grateful for the support system.
I also recommend working on building relationships with recruiters (I know, I might be biased on this front). Make a note of people who are contacting you about roles, respond thoughtfully (whether or not the role is of interest), and share your experience and ambitions. You never know when a relevant role will cross their desk, and building warm friendly relationships will keep you top of mind if a perfect opportunity comes up.
If the worst happens, what’s your plan?
No one likes to think about the absolute worst case scenario, but it can be smart to at least consider what might happen, and make a few contingency plans.
If you were walked out the door tomorrow, would you lose all of your professional contacts? Would you lose access to your dashboards that show your accomplishments? (I’ve heard at least one horror story from a candidate who used his company phone to store ALL of his professional contacts—not a smart move).
Keep a file that includes great feedback from managers/clients, keep track of your accomplishments (yes, I know I’m repeating myself, but it’s that important), and keep your resume and LinkedIn profile up to date.
Lastly, if you’re feeling nervous about the economy, check in on your personal finances and work on building your emergency fund. Hopefully you won’t need it, but it’s better to be prepared.
I don’t know what the economy has in store for the next few years, but I do know that the market tends to rise and fall. When you’re ready for the worst, you can enjoy good times without having to worry too much. Hopefully all your efforts will be an exercise in over-preparedness—but if the market takes a turn you’ll be ready.