The last thing we want to do is become agents of gloom and doom. Like most people, we’d rather walk on the sunny side of the street and believe that there is nothing to fear but fear itself. But all signs point to a deteriorating economy and a government running out of options to keep stimulating it. The stubborn official unemployment number which is now hovering around 9.5% should have us all worried. And that’s without taking account of the 5 to 6 million discouraged and underemployed workers that are not counted in the official tally. Of the 600,000 new jobs created in 2009, 80% were in the service sector. Worst of all, the pace of job growth has been slowing and state and local governments which are cutting to balance budgets are turning the overall numbers negative. If you're still gainfully employed, here's 5 employment related things you can do to defend yourself against the dreaded double dip recession.
1. Make Contacts and Get References Now
Make sure you always have reference letters on file from supervisors, managers and co-workers. It’s easy to lose touch of them when you leave your job or when they leave. If you use a business Social Network like LinkedIn, make sure you are connected with them and start the conversation with them now. The last thing you want to do after a job interview is stall for a few days while you frantically assemble references and get people's current contact information. You also never know, calling an old boss or co-worker might just land you a job.
2. Diversity Your Income:
If you've got one income source, you've got all your eggs in one basket. Whatever your talents are at work, think about using them on a consulting basis to earn some extra money. If you have hobbies or interests that can earn you money on the side pursue them. You may have to cut your rate to start with to drum up some business, but if you build a reputation, you'll find it easier and easier to get additional work. Become serious about getting an additional income stream, incorporate a business and set aside a certain amount of time to get it going. It may take months or years to get it going, but it will add to your savings and provide the diversification you need if you happen to get downsized.
3. Take Part or Full Time Classes
Even if you’re in your fifties, consider going back to school to upgrade your skills or earn a degree in a profession that has better prospects like the health industry. Don’t wait till you lose a job. Get informed right now on what’s available out there in terms of grants, loans, scholarships and start figuring out the best and least expensive schools that you can attend. Be realistic on the degree you are pursuing. It should be a marketable degree that will improve your chances of being employed and lead to higher wages.
4. Consider Heading Overseas
Just like companies off-shore jobs - consider following the corporate trends by off-shoring yourself and your family. It's a global economy and many countries don't have experienced management, operations, or professional personnel. Don’t discount working opportunities abroad, they are often significantly better than what you could get domestically with less competition. You may come back after a few years, and with your experience, you may find that you are far more marketable here at home.
5. Migrate to the Right Industry
Don’t get fixated on the ‘same kind of job’ you had before. At the height of the recession, there was one job available for every six applicants. That figure is an average. Just to demonstrate why averages are meaningless, during the same time period tens of thousands of jobs went begging for lack of qualified candidates. Always remember you’re just one person looking for just one job - that’s your mission. Even if others are having difficulties landing a job, that might have no bearing on your efforts if you go about your mission with zeal and creativity. How hard do you think it is right now for people who are designing mobile phone applications? How about engineers focused on improving solar technology? Plant workers that have shifted to focusing on electrical vehicle manufacturing? Even in traditional areas such as nursing homes and home health care that are being fueled by our aging population. There are dozens of industries that are growing at a furious pace and your ability to position yourself into them may mitigate any recession. The days of the average worker working for life in one industry are long gone.
Sure, all these tips require extra work, and chances are you'll never need them. But you'll sleep alot better if you do just a few of them.
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