Many people are justifiably worried about the economy. They fear a long and deep recession, spurred by central bank collapses, styled by some the Second Great Depression or perhaps Great Recession. These terms, of course, riff off the Great Depression of the 1930s. The causes of downturns are a (much-disputed) story for another day. Students can most benefit from all the uncertainty by recession-proofing their futures. Here are ten jobs recessions can kill, to set you thinking:
1. Wanted: Contracts manager, new housing projects, immediate … In recessions, people double up in apartments or move back home. The crane is seldom seen, nor is the jackhammer heard.
2. Wanted: Sales manager, large appliances, start now … “Made in China” is only part of the story. When jobless graduates camp in mom’s basement, they use mom’s laundry machines. They don’t buy their own, from China or anywhere else.
3. Wanted: Loans officer, forgiving disposition essential … When banks get bailed out by government, you can bet banking is not a growth sector. History books will tell you, banks traditionally lent to government. Anyway, tight credit means fewer creditors’ employees.
4. Wanted: Travel consultant, luxury vacations advisor … When price counts, the margin can be razor thin; so jobs and perks are thin too.
5. Wanted: Retail manager, Pampered Pooches instore boutique … High end retail mostly sells stuff people (and dogs) don’t really need. Most people trim frills before they ration the bones.
6. Wanted: Employee grievance support staff for major airline … Already dogged by record fuel costs, the airline industry hardly needed “don’t touch me!” controversies to discourage travelers. Even pilots are getting laid off.
7. Wanted: Auto selection consultant – cars for stars! … In Mexico, they made “love bug” Volkswagens until 2003. Mix high gas prices, tight credit, and a sluggish economy, and poof!, a bumper sticker: “What the heck, it runs.”
8. Wanted: Strategic change agency places consultants … In bad economies, most conventional advice won’t work. Also, staff work overtime, then post-layoff, they freelance, eating up (literally!) the “consultant” budget.
9. Wanted: Older model computer repair specialist … As the population ages and flattens, some markets shrink. A recession can sink them.
10. Wanted: Company policy diffusion manager … Often, a middle management job outlived its usefulness years ago, but a recession finally ends it. (See the Law of Inertia.)
Anyway, recession or not, view with caution any job whose services cannot be described simply. “My company retrofits buildings for fuel efficiency ” gets more inquiries than “I [followed by 1750 jawdropper words … ]”.
But now, are there jobs that even recessions can’t kill? Yes, and some jobs actually thrive in recessions.
How? Why? A good way to begin is by asking, can I provide a service that people would buy even if their standard of living fell drastically? Monopoly™, invented in 1935, did very well in the Great Depression, by providing many hours of cheap entertainment for cash-strapped families. So did the car radio.
We can sift each of the troubled areas that get the scary headlines, listed above, for the opportunities they hide. Here are a few examples:
1. Wanted: Architect/contractor familiar with disabled renovation … In recessions, we noted, people double up in apartments or move back home or stay home. Basement apartments boom, and so do garden suites for seniors who live with children instead of moving to residences.
2. Wanted: Biochemist positions, several … Recession or no, the Baby Boom is entering senior years, which means more unavoidable health expenses. Expect growth in pharmaceuticals, for example, and assisted living aids.
3. Wanted: Family finance counselors, start now … Credit counseling isn’t going out of style, as people and organizations that spent themselves into a mess need professional help getting out.
4. Wanted: Hiking, biking guides … If most travelers focus on price, give them the price. Many affordable vacations lie undeveloped if everyone hits the hot spots. The path less traveled is still there.
5. Wanted: Humane Clinic seeks vet for basic services … Remember, some services people will always pay for. Goodbye Calvin Klein pooch neckerchief, hello pet ID microchip.
6. Wanted: Marketing co-ordinator, airport kiosk services … Getting there isn’t half the fun any more, and that can mean new opportunities. Passengers, for example, may start buying quality packed lunches on departure and packets of gels, lotions, razors, etc., on arrival.
7. Wanted: Programmer for countrywide parts database … Experts in keeping cars looking good and running longer may experience high traffic.
8. Wanted: Analyst for repurposing, rebranding … In bad economies, businesses try to lose expenses while keeping customers. The answer is neither downsizing nor upsizing, but right sizing. In a world where small isn’t beautiful and bigger isn’t better, the challenge is finding the optimum size.
9. Wanted: Recreation manager for large elder care home … As the population ages and flattens, some markets decline, others rise. Many such changes are easily foreseeable. Even their rate can be predicted.
10. Wanted: Strategic coach for mid-life career change program … Genuine management skill — helping people do and be their best — is highly portable. Demonstrating that skill is the key to a stellar career.
Recessions can be an opportunity. They are a chance to focus on the value we provide, and we can be pretty sure others focus on it too.