I don’t know about you, but I can only take the news in short bursts these days. We won’t dwell on it here…let’s just say things have been better. (Just for context…things have also been worse. In my lifetime.) However, one bit of news that might be of concern to job seekers is that with spiking gas prices and out-of-control inflation, there’s now talk of a possible recession coming our way. And although those fears have lessened just in the past couple of weeks, the talk still hangs in the air. If you’ve been working on finding a new job or changing careers, what might this mean for you? Could all the talk of recession hurt your chances of getting hired? And if recession does come, how much would it impact your job search?
The short answer is…not as much as you think. But it might mean adapting some of your strategies.
Let’s unpack this a little.
How Recession Affects the Job Market
By definition, a recession means the economy is shrinking (or experiencing “negative growth”). They consider it officially a recession when the economy shrinks over two consecutive quarters. Historically, this has usually meant a rise in unemployment because companies don’t have as much money to pay workers, or there is less demand for their products because consumers aren’t spending. During the forced recession of the pandemic during lockdowns, people were thrown out of work in record numbers. During the Great Recession of 2007-2008, millions lost their jobs there, too. And obviously, if people are getting laid off from jobs, it’s harder to find job openings, as well.
What Is Different This Time
That was then. This is now. In 2022, despite all the talk of inflation and a possible recession, the fact remains that unemployment is very low (3.6 percent at the time of this writing), and in many parts of the country, there are still twice as many job openings as there are people to fill them! So even if we were to go into a recession right now, the number of people getting laid off would be considerably fewer. Instead, what would probably happen is the number of overall job openings would decrease–but since there’s already a massive surplus of job openings that employers can’t fill anyway, many job seekers would barely feel the difference.
Now, that’s not to say that some sectors of the economy wouldn’t feel the pain of layoffs. Recession hits different industries differently, so it would largely depend on where you live and what line of work you’re in. But generally speaking, job seekers are less likely to have a hard time finding work even if the economy “goes negative” for a little while.
Making Your Job Seach “Recession Proof”
All that being said, the state of the economy still tends to affect how employers view prospective job candidates, and it affects how they hire and whom they choose to hire. So wisdom says you shouldn’t take for granted the sheer number of job openings when you’re looking for work. Rather, you should adapt your approach to the mood and attitude of the job market itself. Some tips to optimize your chances of success in the event of a recession:
- Focus on your skills and how they can benefit the company as a whole. When you apply at a company, you should tailor your resume specifically to the job opening you’re seeking to show how you are qualified to fill that position. However, in your cover letter, don’t be afraid to position yourself as someone with skills the company needs in general and the type of person they want on their team. That way, if the specific job opening you’re seeking happens to evaporate, they may still keep you in mind for other options.
- Be prepared to negotiate. In a recessionary climate, employers will be looking for ways to save money–and that often means they’ll lowball their initial salary offers. Be prepared ahead of time by researching typical salary ranges for the position you’re seeking, as well as deciding on a salary range that you can live with. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground (politely) during negotiations, and resist the urge to accept a low-ball offer if it won’t properly cover your expenses.
- Keep your skills sharp. In order to make yourself as attractive as possible to potential employers, it’s important to keep your skills up to date. Take classes, get certifications, and otherwise stay on top of the latest developments in your field so you’re more in-demand than your competitors when job openings appear.
- Network, network, network. In any economy, your best bet for finding job leads and getting hired is to go through someone you know. Personal recommendations carry a lot of weight in the job market–even more so during an economic downturn.
The Bottom Line
No one knows for sure whether we’re headed for a recession or not. But even if we are, there’s no need to panic–the job market is much different now than it was during the last recession, and as long as you adapt your job search strategies accordingly, you should be able to weather any economic storm. Of course, my job is to keep my finger on the pulse of the job market and help my clients position themselves in the best light—so if you’d like some help with your job search, I’m here as always. Just click here to access my calendar and set up a free 30-minute consultation.