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How to Prepare for a Recession (Even Though the Economy is Good)

by Stacy Pursell, CPC, CERS

The VET Recruiter®

Regardless of everything that’s been happening the world during the past year—trade wars, extreme weather, political strife—the national economy is still doing well. And because of that, the employment marketplace is still full of opportunity.

However, recessions are an inevitable part of economic life, both in the United States and in countries throughout the world. While the good news is that the economy is still recovering from the Great Recession, the bad news is that there will one day be an end to this recovery. And that means we will once again experience a recession. No matter how much we’d like to convince ourselves that it’s not going to happen, it will at some point.

I am a firm believer in being proactive. I encourage professionals to be proactive in every area of their career. That’s because when you’re proactive, you’re able to create more options and choices for yourself. And when you have more options and choices, then you can make better decisions, which will help you both professionally and personally.

So while the economy is good and this is currently a candidate-driven market, this is certainly no time to “rest on your laurels” or “coast.” One of the best career books that I’ve read is Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty by Harvey Mackay. The book presents a simple analogy, one that is very applicable to this conversation.

When you’re thirsty, you need water now. You don’t want to wait. In fact, by most estimates, you can only live three days without water. So in a literal sense, you would have to dig your well before you were thirsty . . . or you would run the risk of death.

In the figurative sense, when you need a job, you want a job now. However, just like digging a well, it takes time to find a job. One isn’t going to fall into your lap just because a recession hit and you find yourself suddenly unemployed. Instead, you must prepare before it happens by being proactive in your efforts. So how exactly should you be proactive?

Below are four tips for preparing for a recession (even though the economy is good right now):

#1—Take stock of your value.

It’s all about value. Specifically, it’s all about your value. This is true in a good economy, but it’s especially important during a down economy or a recession. Think about it for a second. When a recession hits and companies are forced to cut back, where do they cut first in terms of personnel? They cut those employees deemed to be “non-essential.” That’s another way of saying that those employees do not provide a lot of value. (At the very least, they don’t provide enough value to justify staying employed with the organization.)

So take an objective look at the value you provide to your current employer. After all, if you don’t know how valuable you are, then how can you expect an employer to know?

#2—Identify the options that are available to you.

Your opportunities for career growth are only as good as the options you have for achieving that growth. Once again, that’s true during good economic times and recessionary ones. This is why it’s important to know what those options are. And I’m talking about the options that exist both with your current employer and also in the marketplace.

In fact, an analysis of your options should include an analysis of the financial health of your current employer. How well could the organization weather a recession? Could it weather down times well, or do you think it’s susceptible to the effects of a recession? These are things about which you may not have thought before, but the answers to these questions could hold the key to what happens to you during the next downturn.

#3—Increase your networking efforts.

I can not emphasize enough the importance of networking. That’s because networking gets results! And I’m not just talking about networking through social media platforms like LinkedIn. Yes, LinkedIn is a great tool for networking and other aspects of professional life. However, it does not serve as a substitute for face-to-face networking.

There are numerous industry events in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession each year. There are the big ones like VMX, WVC and AVMA, but there are also regional and local ones, too. These events are prime opportunities for not only training and education, but also for networking. You never know what another person knows or who they know. I always say that it’s not just what you know and it’s not just who you know, but it both what you know and who you know.

#4—Invest in yourself with training and education.

As mentioned in the first item on this list, it’s all about the value that you provide to your current employer and the value that you could provide to a potential employer. As such, it makes sense that you should strive to make yourself as valuable as possible. Your value includes not only your level of experience, but also your skills.

There are two types of skills—hard (technical) skills and soft (people skills). Hard skills are more easily teachable and quantifiable, while soft skills refer to the way in which you interact with other people (your boss, co-workers, customers, etc.). Organizations want employees who offer value in both categories, which is why you should continually strive to invest in yourself in both of these categories. Remember: there is NO such thing as possessing or offering too much value.

I am, by nature, an optimistic person. I hope for the best. But if you want to build your career the right way, you can’t just hope for the best. You also have to prepare for the worst, and that includes preparing for the inevitability of a recession. It’s not something of which you should be afraid. It’s simply something for which you must prepare.

And the four steps outlined above will help you do just that. So start preparing today, and be proactive about the course of your professional life and your career.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of Animal Health and Veterinary organizations. If this is something that you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.

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