New to the recession? Let’s show you how to cope
Update your CV, tap into old networks, upskill. A downturn is coming. Those who lived through the last one have the best survival tips
By now Elon Musk’s bizarre layoffs at Twitter are practically a meme, though no one on the receiving end is laughing. And with news of a global recession just months away, millions of employees around the world are anticipating being Musked. Cue fear, insecurity and possible depression.
It’s happened before. In the recession of 2007-09, Ganapathy Ramachandran, a 39-year-old advertising professional then in the UAE, saw rows of abandoned luxury cars near the airport as the laid-off rushed back to their homelands. “It was a rapid downfall—we saw 70-page newspaper editions slim down to 16-18 pages overnight,” he says.
Rais Motelkar, who had quit his job in the ITES field in that period, struggled to find a new one. Corporate lawyer Ami Buddhadev, who was pink-slipped, had to settle for working as an event manager at a much lower salary.
All survived. Eventually, they even thrived. And they have solid, actionable advice for those anticipating the dreaded “Invitation to a Zoom call with HR tomorrow at 8.45am”.
Tell the story: Job loss posts on social media bring out the trolls, yes, but also the empaths. “It may be difficult to put your ego aside and share a plea, but do it. Remember how actor Neena Gupta asked for work in 2007? Look how far it got her,” says Ramachandran.
Buddhadev believes job-loss posts work best for junior positions. “Most senior-level executives avoid it,” she says.
Motlekar, however, warns that this may affect your prospects, especially if you post a sob story. “In the corporate world, keep things simple, subtle and professional. Post, but in a manner that lets people understand you are open to work and looking for suitable options,” he explains.
Emphasise strengths: Motlekar believes in preparing for the worst. Update your resume even before the announcements are made “In layoff season, there is no reason to procrastinate. Create a job-hunting schedule,” he says.
Ramachandran recommends creating a set of resumes, customised to the positions available and playing up the skills that matter. “Document your work achievements every fortnight. This helps you remember the small wins,” he adds.
Work the network: The last thing to do is blanket-bomb recruiters with queries. “Instead, connect with offline hiring groups to understand how you can polish your resume with the right keywords or key skills,” Buddhadev says.
Hone those skills: Free courses on LinkedIn and on learning apps add value to resumes. Buddhadev recently did a digital marketing course because at 40, her competition is 25-year-olds. “Resumes these days are searched based on keywords, so your skill sets are crucial,” she adds.
Mind the gap: A break in a career isn’t so bad if it adds value to the resume. “Just don’t lie about it,” warns Ramachandran. “Your lie can be easily detected through a simple reference check.”
Manage finances: While Buddhadev had about a year’s savings to tide her over, this may have been insufficient for someone with more responsibilities. “Medical emergencies must be accounted for,” says Ramachandran.
If the rainy day fund is frighteningly low, don’t hesitate to accept lower pay, says Motlekar. “The market will offer 20 to 30 per cent lower pay, but accept the best available offer rather than depend entirely on your savings,” he says.
Fight back: Ramachandran thinks it’s okay to start again from the bottom, but in a structured way. “Invest in your belief, stay focused on building your dream career. Do the small course you need for your next job. Write the first few pages of the book you’ve been planning to. Bake cakes and cookies that you never found the time for. Dreams become reality when you take that first step,” he says.
Adds Buddhadev, “Besides looking for a job in the same field, focus on skills you may have parked aside and see if you can turn that into a side income or a business.” Also know that different fields have different compensation structures. “Creative fields especially don’t always pay well, especially in the initial stages,” Buddhadev warns.
Don’t stress: Rather than mourn a past job, prepare for the next. “Sometimes, there is no answer to the question ‘Why me?’, so dust yourself off and get ready to run better and faster,” says Motlekar. “Many successful people have had several ups and downs in their careers.”
And eat well, advises Buddhadev. “No one ever solved a crisis on an empty stomach.”
From HT Brunch, March 18, 2023
Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch
Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch