How to Keep Your Job During a Recession

March 25th, 2008

There’s an interesting article on Yahoo! (by way of titled  5 Ways to Keep Your Job During a Recession.

There are a lot of articles like this one popping up, so it’s pretty clear that people are feeling job security anxiety these days. And this piece features some good advice. It’s always a good idea to boost your visibility (in positive ways only, of course) and marketability. Another tip that wasn’t mentioned — focus on maintaining a strong relationship with your boss (and, ideally, your boss’s boss) and make sure he/she knows about all of the valuable things that you do. Make sure that decision makers are aware of the value that you provide to the company.

However, I think the most valuable advice comes in the conclusion of the article: "And, because there’s no guarantee that you will retain your job in a recession, no matter how hard you try, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. On your own time, update your resume. Also, make sure that you are still networking with old bosses, coworkers, and business contacts. Don’t wait until you are laid off to keep your contacts and resume fresh. You will get better results if you are prepared ahead of time."

Amen. The bottom line  is that there is no way to control whether you’ll keep your job during a recession or even during a strong economy. Today, all corporations go through layoffs and it’s hard to predict when or how they are going to happen. It’s not only companies in underperforming sectors that lay people off. You can waste a lot of time and energy worrying about layoffs that would be better spent preparing to minimize any negative fallout if it does happen.

I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but I think people should keep in mind that strong performance is no guarantee that you’ll stick around. I have seen many valuable employees get laid off and many slackers survive job cuts. I have wasted many hours gossiping about layoff rumors, speculating about the safety of my job, and ostentatiously "adding value" in every meeting to show how indispensable I was. All of that while I could have been working on my resume.

The truth is that layoff decisions are often made for reasons that have nothing to do with performance. Sometimes an entire department is laid off or just the people who make the highest salaries in a certain group.

That’s why you can’t ever take it personally. Future employers know that getting laid off is no reflection on your value as an employee or a person. In fact, most job candidates at this point can probably boast at least one lay-off on their resumes.

So yes, you should keep performing well. This is no time to slack off. But stop gossiping, worrying, and biting your nails. Instead, use your spare time to step up your passive job search efforts and start looking for your next position. Even if you don’t end up needing a new job, it’s always a good idea to keep your options open.

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Mark McClure

Hi Pamela,

For me, the 3rd para is where peace of mind meets the so-called bottom line.

Staying on the corp team definitely is as much about who you know as what you know. Whether rank and file people want to continue to play that game is often a mix of values, ethics and a smattering of luck.

Where possible take advantage of training and development (and company mentoring, if available) to increase your perceived value and also look one or two steps into a possible future career move where this knowledge might help… “Transferable skills” really is more than a buzz phrase for in-house corp mobility programs!


mark mcclure

Recession Blog

Good article. These are definitely times when we need to look at what we can do to add value as an employee. This is a good read, too:
5 Tips for Saving Your Job


It’s great to see others feel the same way about many of the things I felt intuitively. I might also add that many people focus a bit to much on keeping their present job. In reality, this is not very practical with declining wages, changing business sectors, and more and more companies eliminating retirement benefits. So the best thing to do is concentrate on keeping a good paying, high-benefit job. I recently ran across a blog that list several tips on keeping a job. The link is:


Good point about channeling the worry into positive energy that makes one that much more valuable in the marketplace.

Having said that, since we’re also talking about being more creative during this economic slump, why not think outside the box of looking to work for another in the first place?

I’m rather amazed that there are plenty of skill sets that are for whatever reason not “conventional” enough to be taught in schools, but the mastery of which would lead to more autonomy.

Most of us are trained to be employees- nothing wrong with that, but I’m convinced that thinking that way is a kind of tunnel vision that keeps many from learning skills that would allow them to carve out there own path to income.

One of them is as close as the computer in front of you. For the first time in history, we are 3 feet in front of the world, yet few learn how to use it in a way to render 1) value to others and 2)income for themselves.

John Tabernik

While I totally agree that there are no guarantees that your job will survive a bad economy, I have seen countless people survive a cut because of one major thing–attitude. Companies don’t always need you in the exact position you were in before, but they almost always need competent, hard-working individuals who have proven themselves to be valuable. It is not uncommon for an organization to find you a position somewhere else in the company because they think you are “the right kind of person.”

So, while I agree with your advice to network and keep your resume up to date, I cannot stress enough how hard work and a good attitude may save you even if your exact role doesn’t survive.


Great article! I believe that there is nothing from stopping a corporation from letting someone go. Of course if you are not a good employee you’ll just make it very easy for a company to let you go. That is why while you are employed start a business on the side.

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