As companies try to decipher the economy’s mixed signals, the hiring picture has remained surprisingly buoyant. However, we are starting to see cracks in the armor with reports of a slowdown in August hiring. If we know anything, it’s that change happens quickly. So how do staffing companies help employees thrive at work if the labor market heads into a downturn? Workers can recession-proof their career by taking daily actions that provide value to their employer.

Commit to life-long learning. As we become entrenched in the activities of our job, we can slide into auto pilot. Unfortunately, often our skills don’t keep up with the needs of our industry or profession. Have you taken any online courses lately? There is a massive amount of free material to make us better at our jobs and enhance our skill set. In addition, consider getting a professional certification or advanced degree or taking work-related classes to set yourself apart from your peers. Your initiative will ultimately make you more marketable to the organization. Learning is a journey, and it is your responsibility to stay current.

Leave the comfort zone. Have you ever watched anyone perform the same job function for 20 years? Not only could that be boring, it won’t get you recognized by your employer. After all, it’s likely other people possess the same skills you do after all this time. Consider volunteering for special projects and teams as well as new initiatives and tasks. Stretch yourself to take on new workplace challenges. In addition, look around you for opportunities to drive business and innovate. Is there a department that is struggling, and could a new business idea help overall production and results? If you have a recommendation for your company, produce the framework for that idea and create a workable model. Your boss will appreciate the initiative!

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Improve your performance. Do you think you are the top-ranked performer? Your manager may think differently. We have all encountered peers who think they are doing a great job, but the company views them with a different lens. Request a formal review with your management if you have not had one. Ask for candid feedback, know your weaknesses and understand how you can excel. How do you rank among others in your team? Asking for a ranking will crystallize your performance – the bottom 20% is not optimal! Address problems and implement actions to improve. Set a future follow up with your manager to track your progress and be open to coaching.

Develop a professional network. Whether you want to stay at your current job or need to find a new role, take a sincere interest in your network of current and former colleagues and get together formally at professional events and informally at social events. It will pay dividends as we help each other navigate our career challenges. Even if you never need to find a new job, your network of associates can help you in your current role and vice versa. We all have different strengths to leverage, so make a commitment to stay connected to your network.

Improve your mindset. Attitude is everything. Do you vocalize your unhappiness? You may not even notice it, but other people do. Take stock of what you like about your job and focus on the positive. Remember that perfection is hard to capture and sustain. Think about how you can address a less than ideal situation instead of lament it. Set forth ideas/recommendations to target areas that need improvement vs. a complaint, and introduce these ideas to your boss in the spirit of problem solving.

Embrace change. Nothing stays the same indefinitely, especially in a post pandemic world. Economic downturns and external factors will always alter corporate America, and these events seem to be occurring at a faster pace. It is crucial to adapt your approach to duties/responsibilities on a daily basis. The ability to pivot, absorb the shock of change, and innovate sets the average employee apart from the pack. Strive to differentiate yourself and use a changing environment to develop your potential.

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