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5 tips to recession-proof your career

Learn how to increase the chances of keeping your job in a downturn
5 tips to recession-proof your career

In light of the current oil and gas market, a number of people in the industry are affected by lay-offs; this is a major concern for many in the industry.  Here are some key tips to protect your job during a downturn.  Most of these suggestions are not going to help if your whole department gets eliminated, but they will help you avoid targeted job cuts.

  1. Adaptability and Flexibility

The best way to fend-off being one of the casualties is through adaptability.  The ability to wear many hats and learn new processes quickly is vital.  Pay attention to changes that are impacting your company, your company’s clients, your industry, and the economy.  Adapt to shifting priorities and be responsive to change.  For example, when the recession hit my employer in 2009, multiple people in our small human resources department were laid-off.  I retained my job despite the fact that I was a recent hire in a recruiting role.  A company obviously doesn’t do much hiring while navigating the worst recession in decades and laying employees off.  I offered to start processing the unemployment claims and took over some other new responsibilities as well.  Don’t wait for a slowdown to demonstrate that you are adaptable; take the initiative to tackle new responsibilities in addition to the duties you were hired to perform.

After lay-offs occur, the remaining team members have to handle the workload with a reduced staff.  So, the survivors need to be efficient and effective in order to handle a heavier workload per employee.  If you handle projects and responsibilities outside of your position’s core responsibilities when times are good, then the company is more likely to keep you when they need to trim the department.  If you had to reduce your department from 5 members to 3, who would you choose to keep?  The person who only completed the basic job duties, or the person who completed his work and assisted another department which had a member on sick leave?  You get the idea.

  1. Be the expert

Be your department’s go-to person; not just for your profession, but for something that goes above and beyond your basic job duties.  For example, be the go-to person for a software program that your department utilizes.  When I worked at Shell, I was the go-to person in my group for answers about running PeopleSoft reports and for entering our timekeeping in CATS (SAP).  Everyone in your group may be a good accountant, but when management selects which person to lay off from your group, are they going to choose the one who is a SAP super-user?

  1.  Be a team-player

I know-- that’s one of those buzz-words that everyone is sick of hearing.  There is a reason it gets mentioned frequently.  It’s important.  If you were deciding who to lay-off from your team, would you select the member of your team who plays well with others, or are you going to pick the diva in the group?  Are you going to choose the person who volunteers, “Can I help you” or the one who says, “That’s not my job”?

  1.  Make your boss look good

When you perform well, it reflects well on your manager and your department.  When you perform poorly, it reflects poorly on your manager and your department.    This applies to the work itself, your attitude, your team-work, your ethics, and your professionalism.  If you need to address an issue, do it respectfully and in private with the appropriate individuals.  Don’t worry if you don’t personally get credit for every good idea you have.  Celebrate team and department successes.  Volunteer to mentor the new guy who is struggling a little so that the department as a whole performs well.  Look for ways to improve processes and reduce expenses; have a continuous improvement mindset.

  1.  Have a back-up plan

Network, network, network!  In real estate, it’s location, location, location.  In hiring, it’s all about your relationships.  Do not wait until lay-offs are pending to start networking.  Network while you have a job you love!  You never know when your company will get bought out or you’ll get Enron-ed.  Yes, I made that word up, but you probably know what I’m referring to (especially if you work in the oil and gas industry).  I was working at Shell that fateful day in the building right next to Enron, and I remember all too vividly standing at the window with my colleagues watching the procession of Enron employees exit their building each carrying a box.  We were all struck speechless and felt shaken as we watched silently; it was a very similar feeling to that of attending the funeral of a friend who died suddenly.  That memory is burned into my brain.  If you are ever in that pink-slip procession, you want to already have a list of people you can call for job leads.  Even better, have a list of people who will be calling you when they hear the news that your company is laying off, clamoring to hire you.

About the author:

Sue Orr, MBA, SPHR is a Recruiter and HR Consultant with Sherlock Resources, LLC.  She has over 10 years of HR and recruiting experience in the oil and gas industry.  Sherlock Resources is based in Houston, TX; their mission is to match awesome talent with awesome clients.

Content copyright 2013-2015 Sherlock Resources, LLC.  All rights reserved

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