I'm going to talk about a subject that's a little hard to discuss, but I'm asking you to power through and really listen to me. We're going to talk about the fact that a recession is coming. It's on the horizon.
Not If, But When
It's not a question of "if", it's a question of "when." As a career coach, I get really, really worried about everybody in times like these. I've been through three market corrections in my lifetime.
First, when I was graduating from college, so I was a job seeker.
Second, I was in HR and recruiting back in the .com bust. I watched all that happen in Silicon Valley and beyond.
And then third, the big recession of 2008. This was when I started my career coaching practice and started this website because I was so worried about people and what I saw.
I know it's coming and I'm worried for two particular groups of people. The first are the millennials. The millennials have never worked through a recession. They grew up experiencing one, they saw their parents get stressed out, and maybe lose their jobs. However, they've never lived through a recession where a lot of their friends and maybe themselves are going to lose jobs.
It's not just a question of people losing jobs. There will be survivor's guilt as well. You feel that when you realize you kept your job and somebody else didn't. It's horrifying. Some of them are managers and it's going to be the first time they've had to let people go.
It's a very stressful thing, especially because we know millennials are super sensitive, super team-based. Those are wonderful qualities to have. But, it means the stress level and the emotional reaction to it is going to be even higher and that concerns me a lot.
The Baby Boomers
I'm also worried about all of the more seasoned workers. Baby boomers and some of the older Gen Xers because we have so many people in the workforce right now. Over half of them are millennials who are younger and less expensive.
There's this kind of bell curve that you hit in your career and a lot of older workers are going to be pushed off the cliff of work relevance. This means they probably won't ever get another job that pays as much or as well.
It's just the law of supply and demand. When we have more people in the workforce who cost less, it drives the price down.
Think About Your Personality & Aptitude
It's very concerning to me that this is going to happen. I can't stop it from happening, but what I can do is coach people right now on the two things you need to be thinking about with respect to your presence in the workplace.
It's not just about your experience. The most senior person does not stay, the most experienced person does not stay in these situations. Trust me, I was in HR and recruiting. I have been through many reorganizations. I understand what goes on behind those closed doors; they're looking at two additional things about you as a professional.
They're looking at your personality, meaning, what are you like to work with? In times of stress, what is your personality? What gets revealed about you and how are you to collaborate with?
And finally, they look at your aptitude. What's your ability to adapt to change? How good are you at just rolling with it and making things happen and shifting gears? And, on top of all that, being experienced.
Companies are saying, "Okay, I have to build this new team. This new team is going to be made of the survivors. I need them to be able to get positive and motivated and be productive at the highest level. I'm going to need them to get along in these tough times."
That's why companies pay a lot of attention to your personality and your aptitude.
Do A Gut Check
So what does that mean for you right now? Well, you need to do a gut check.
How has your attitude been in the workplace?
- Are you one of those people that has been rolling with the punches and embracing change and really helping move things forward?
- Are you somebody who has a lot of strong relationships with your coworkers, peers, and your manager?
- Are you seen as somebody who is a specialist, a go-to person in the organization who provides lots of value and really serves everyone?
Those are the things you need to get honest about because a lot of times people forget, they just work in their job. "I don't have to have friends at the office, I just need to do my work." It's not enough. In times of change, you also need to be seen as somebody that they're going to want to work through the tough times with.
Make sure you're working on your career right now, not just in your job. If you aren't, and you get blindsided, it's going to be so hard emotionally to rebound.
Most importantly, if that does happen for you, please get support, get help immediately. Do not try to go it alone. We're all businesses-of-one.
We're in business for ourselves, but we shouldn't be by ourselves. That's why when sudden career curve balls happen, you need mentors, you need support, you need a community. Make sure you get that, too.
My advice to you is to do that gut check. Maybe sit down with your boss and talk a little bit about your contributions and what you can do to improve. Are you a good team player? What else can you do to add value?
If you're walking in with an attitude, you're frustrated. "They don't respect me. They don't recognize me enough." If you think you're hiding that attitude, you're not! That's mentally-noted for when times get tough.
So, do a reality check, attitude check, gut check, and get in the game. Bring your best personality to work every day. Bring your best aptitude, your ability to change every day, and keep working on your experience. Make sure you're staying relevant!
I know this is a hard conversation to have, but it's important that you don't shy away from it! You've got to understand and know what to do because knowledge is power.
We're all in this together. And, as we always say, if you want to win, you've got to Work It Daily!
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