From left, Amber Hisatake, Mary Powers and Amy Morrison. Photos courtesy of Lake Washington Institute of Technology

From left, Amber Hisatake, Mary Powers and Amy Morrison. Photos courtesy of Lake Washington Institute of Technology

Recession proofing your career

The best time to prepare for an economic downturn is when the job market is strong.

The economy in the Seattle area is strong, which makes this the right time to recession proof your career.

Typically, people don’t think about adding to their credentials when the job market is strong, but it’s actually the best time to prepare for an economic downturn. When the economy slows and there are reductions to the workforce, those without any post-secondary education, who may need to add new skills to their experience, or upgrade current ones, have historically been among those who have been displaced.

According to the state Employment Security Department, Washington’s economy gained 2,300 jobs in August, with an unemployment rate at 4.6 percent, with King County’s unemployment rate at 3 percent. Since the recession in 2007, more than 607,000 jobs have been recovered.

With that, there are several areas around the country that experience post-recession growth. According to The McKinsey Growth Institute’s executive summary, “The Future of Work in America,” the Seattle area is considered a high-growth hub, in an urban core area. The summary states, “These cities have higher incomes, faster employment growth since the Great Recession, with high net migration, and younger, more educated workforces than the rest of the country.”

This growth can’t and won’t continue forever, and the proverbial bubble will burst. One good indicator that it could begin to slow is the housing market. While many regions around the country saw housing prices and sales begin to decline 18-24 months ago, we are just beginning to see that in the Puget Sound area, which could further indicate an economic slowdown.

The staff in Lake Washington Institute of Technology’s (LWTech) Employment Resource Center help students with job placement and career planning, every day. Here are five tips on how you can prepare for an economic downturn:

Add new skills by adding a specialized certificate. The length of a certificate program varies by program, and could take as little as 15 credits, depending on the program.

Keep your skills up-to-date. Continue to add skills to your experience so you remain current with evolving industry standards and trends. This will also help you stay apprised of emerging technologies in your industry. This includes taking advantage of professional development opportunities, learning new programs and software, and researching new approaches within your career field. You should also continue to hone and develop your interpersonal communication skills, which include how you get along with others, how you utilize critical thinking skills and how you problem solve.

Add an associate’s or applied bachelor’s degree to your existing degree. Maybe you have a degree in liberal arts and have been in the workforce for 10 years, but want to be skilled for the next-level job by getting a technical associate’s or applied bachelor’s degree. Many people come back to college to add to their existing degrees.

Engage with your personal and professional network. According to LinkedIn, 85-percent of jobs are filled by networking. In fact, the best jobs out there might not even be advertised (and many jobs that are advertised on sites like Indeed.com might actually already be filled). Make sure your professional profile on LinkedIn is up to date. Continuously build your network by connecting with people in your industry, or industries that have transferrable skills that are similar to yours. Network by attending professional events, joining industry organizations or associations and taking continuing education courses. The Corporate and Continuing Education Center-Eastside (CCEC-Eastside), offers training and certificate programs through a partnership among LWTech, Cascadia College and Everett Community College.

Be seen as indispensable. Be aware and practice articulating your strengths and what you bring to the table at your current job. This can help you keep your job, be considered for leadership roles and promotions and remind your employer how you contribute to your role and the team. Take inventory of what makes you unique and shine at work. Keep statistics and numbers that highlight your performance. Communicate this to your supervisor whether it’s at your check-in meetings, or through weekly performance emails. Communicate with your manager so they know your value.

Now is the time to add new skills or a degree to what you already have in your career toolkit. If you want to explore career options, LWTech has a personal admissions coach who can help you get started. Boost your credentials so you have work toward a recession-proof career.

Dr. Amy Morrison is the president of LWTech. Amber Hisatake is the assistant director of recruitment, outreach and employment at LWTech and Mary Powers is a career specialist at LWTech.

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