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How To Keep Your Career On Track During A Recession

With the world economy in such a state, layoffs, redundancies and furloughs are commonplace – but even so, you can appear indispensable to your organisation.


There’s no denying that this year has been a year that will be remembered, and definitely not for the right reasons. Many of us know of, or personally know, someone who has lost their job, which is unsurprisingly given that more people have lost their jobs this year than during the Great Depression. Fortunately, many of us in procurement and supply chain have been protected thus far, but we do not know for how long. So is there anything we can do to ensure we keep our career on track and avoid being laid off? 

When you work for large corporations as many of us do, it can be easy to feel powerless against a potential redundancy. But rest assured, there are a few significant things you can do to keep your career (and your job). Here’s what you can do to keep afloat when everyone else seems to be on the sinking ship: 

1. Be visible

In a perfect world, you would be judged on your work and your work alone. But career success requires so much more than that: to learn and grow, you’re also expected to volunteer for extra projects and committees, network, pursue development opportunities, and so much more. 

Doing so makes you more ‘visible’ to more people, but it also makes your effort far more visible. And ultimately, if more people value you and your input, it’s more likely that if the time comes to lay people off, your job will be seen as essential. 

Of course, visibility has taken on a whole new meaning this year. You may not be able to show up in person anymore, but if you’re looking to keep your career on track, volunteer for that committee you might have skipped in the past. Be as engaged as possible, even when meetings bore you. And make time to connect with colleagues, even if it’s just for a quick social video chat. 

Work is not a popularity contest, but the more connections you have, the more likely you will be to stay. 

2. Be optimistic 

Being optimistic in this environment is challenging at best, impossible at most. And why should you bother? It’s doom and gloom for most of the world for the foreseeable future, with no real end date. 

Could optimism actually help your career, though? Science says yes. 

Research into who survives massive layoffs shows some surprising results. In a nutshell, being optimistic at work is important for one key reason: people will be more likely to want to work with you. In business, people are almost twice as likely to want to work with someone they consider congenial, over someone who is more capable, yet less likeable. 

When a company is considering layoffs, they will consider how much work each individual or department needs to do. If you’re optimistic and great to work with, you’ll likely get the lion’s share, and will be less likely to be able to be replaced. 

3. Support your leader

When times get tough, it’s tempting to make an enemy out of your boss. After all, they often have a say on whether or not you’ll keep your job, and sometimes are in the terrible position of having to deliver you the bad news – while keeping their own job, which can feel crushingly unfair. 

Yet if you’re looking to keep your career on track during a recession, going dark on your boss is not advised. 

Managers, just like everyone else, suffer through recessions and not many (if any) enjoy laying people off. Recognising this, and showing empathy for them, can help create an important emotional bond. In turn, this bond will help them see you as mature and resilient, and hopefully, all things being equal, an asset to the company, and one that is not easily replaced.  

Keeping your career on track in this economy is certainly a challenge, and sometimes you simply go into survival mode. But remember, you’re not powerless. There are things you can do every day to show how invaluable you are to your company, so next year – hopefully – you can not just survive, but thrive.