How To “Recession Proof” Your Career

The one overriding concern that has occupied the thoughts of professionals across the globe over the past few years has been the Damocles’s sword of possible redundancy. Whereas most of us- as individuals – feel somewhat powerless before the vagaries of the market, the right career choices (or at least career decisions based on the right logic) can go a long way in ensuring that we can as professionals make ourselves recession proof.
To understand the whole process in a logical flow we do a top down analysis of what it takes to be “recession proof”. These guidelines will be specifically useful for parents whose children are in high school; and are on the verge of selecting a career and a college.
1. Good times or bad, nothing lasts forever. Just as growth, periodic recessions are an integral part of any economy. Accepting this truth is the first step.
2. Understand the psychology of organizations. Organizations incur a substantial cost in recruiting and training people, so retrenching human resource is usually a last resort. However during financially tough times when reducing overheads becomes a necessity, the hierarchy of redundancy is determined by a specific personnel’s “cost to the company” (CTC) versus their directly or indirect – impact on the organization’s bottom-line. So the best way to ensure continued relevancy in an organization is to stay ahead on the productivity curve.
3. How to stay Productive? Being Passionate about what one does = Being good at what one does. In other words make sure you have chosen a career for the right reasons. The ranks of redundant workforce usually comprises of those professionals whose choice of a specific discipline was dictated by what – is/was “in demand”; or the “financial prospects”; or the “glamour”; or “respectability of the profession per se etc – i.e. almost every possible reason other than the all important one – “whether they possessed a passion for their chosen career.
When extraneous factors threaten to cloud your judgment about a choice of career – A great thumb rule to go by is – “It is always better to be the best in a mediocre field, than be mediocre in the best field”.
4. Have a career NOT just a job. Your career defines who you are; it is your value addition to the organization you work for; and in a larger context your contribution to the society at large. The definition of a career is far broader and goes beyond just the “job” you hold, your designation in an organization; or the size of your pay-check – which are but some indicators of your degree of success in your chosen career.
5. Stay loyal to your chosen profession: Once you have decided on your discipline of interest, it is imperative that you stay loyal to it come what may. Unfortunately this is easier said than done, often times – caught in the avalanche of “well-meant and practical advice” from well wishers and “the frequent gold rushes” that grip the certain industry sectors from time to time – you are bound to be plagued by doubts – especially when you see some of your contemporaries in “jobs” that seems to be financially more lucrative; and guaranteed to take them on a fast track to “success”.
Whenever you are confronted with such advice or racked by self-doubt, remind yourself that a choice of career is a decision that is going to stay with you forever; and therefore its returns quotient should be never just be judged on a singular short-term financial parameter – but on a number of other intangible parameters, like job satisfaction, your passion for the domain, and most importantly – if it is something you would be able to bring yourself to do for the next 40 odd years of your life.
An acid test for such a situation is “the billionaire test”. If you were a billionaire and did not have to work for a living for as long as you lived, which is the profession you would have chosen to pursue, would you rather be a “shark slayer” a “video game reviewer” or “a chef”.
6. A good education goes a long way in “recession proofing ones career”. Whereas most of the aforementioned aspects can be addressed and influenced entirely by your approach to career in general, making the right choices about your higher education provider is crucial, because – you cannot influence or change the quality of education an entity offers; but you do have the power to make the right choice at the onset. Remember once a choice is made you are stuck with it possibly for the rest of your life.
7. Understand what a good education entity is supposed to be: Criteria that contribute to the makings of a good educational entity is often misunderstood, and is often times based solely on availability of infrastructural accompaniments (like laboratories and classrooms) that an entity possesses – these are but aids that contribute to enhancing the quality of educational experience.
The most important factors that an education provider should be judged on is its emphasis and ability to create an environment that encourages – or in fact demands – a genuine passion about the chosen discipline from students and faculties alike, a continuous exchange of ideas, a research oriented and knowledge seeking mindset and a renowned faculty that is actively involved in research while pursuing active ties and collaborations with respective industry segments.
Though it is never too late to take stock of one’s career, ideally this process should start at the formative years of one’s career, i.e. during high school or right after it.

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