There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic transformed the world economy almost overnight. Because of that, many high school and college graduates find themselves entering the job market during one of the most challenging recessions of all time. But how does this impact the long-term trajectory of your career? And, more importantly, how can you recession-proof your career and still reach your professional dreams?
What It Means Now
If you’re a young adult entering the job market during a recession, you’ll likely struggle to find and maintain employment. For example, unemployment rates for people between the ages of 16 and 24 were nearly twice as high as the national unemployment rate during the Great Recession of the late 2000s.
What’s more, most people fall back on restaurant and retail jobs when they cannot secure something in their chosen field. But these industries often suffer the most during a recession. This leaves a very large number of people battling it out for a constantly shrinking number of jobs.
Studies show that graduates who enter the job market during a recession earn 10 percent less than those who enter during a boom. What’s more, this income differential can put many recent grads into excessive amounts of debt. This debt often takes up to a decade to crawl out of.
Additional research shows that when people enter the market during a recession, they take jobs with less upward mobility. This, in turn, leads them to job hop more frequently than those who start their careers during an upturn. Similarly, frequent job swaps can slow down your career growth and leave you stuck in lateral moves for years.
Furthermore, entering the job market during an economic downturn can actually take years off of your life. While recessions leave even more people in their 20s without ample health insurance and financial means to afford healthcare, the stress of it all can ultimately increase the risk of heart and lung disease or lead to other health conditions.
How To Recession-Proof Your Career
While the deck may feel stacked against you if you enter the job market during a recession, most experts agree that you can take certain steps to help alleviate the impact the recession has on your long-term career goals. For example, career coaches at Monster.com recommend that you build a strong professional network and use it to your advantage. Also, don’t write off temp or freelance positions as those can open doors to something permanent once the economy settles.
Inversely, your best option during a recession may be to advance your education. While graduate school enrollment typically peaks during an economic downturn, an advanced degree or additional training could make the difference between an entry-level position and your dream job.
With that being said, a short-term post-graduate program that helps set you up for success could be just what you need to recession-proof your career. These programs often provide all of the things you need to enter the job market on the right foot during a recession: mentorship from leaders in your chosen field, professional networking and career guidance, resume and portfolio building, wealth planning, and options for certifications and specializations.
Entering the job market during a recession might feel like an uphill battle. With the right tools, though, you can set yourself up for success even during this challenging time.