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3 Good Things a Recession Does for Careers

3 Good Things a Recession Does for Careers

J.T. O'Donnell

March 25, 2011

Are you sick of hearing bad news about the economy and job market? Well then, this post is for you.

I’m not trying to discount the fact a lot of people are suffering professionally these days. Yet, the reality is a recession actually has some short-term and long-term upsides when it comes to how we view and manage our careers. That’s right, there is some good coming out of 2.5M jobs lost, wide-spread hiring freezes, and a possible soon to reach double-digit unemployment rate.

Here are three good things a recession does for our careers:

1. Makes being “let-go” not as hard to accept, nor as difficult to explain.

Recently, I spoke to someone who just got let go from their job with a radio station. He’s not that upset about it. Why? He simply said, “My manager told me 20 other people on the team got let go too – and I was the most recent hire. So, I know it had nothing to do with my performance.” Getting laid-off is mainstream. We all know one or more individuals who lost their job recently. Which means, those who get let go aren’t taking it as personally as they would if it happened in a good economy. Instead of feeling singled-out and wondering, “What’s wrong with me?” they are able to effectively rationalize the situation by saying, “I’m not the only one. This was out of my control.”

2. Gets people to rethink the concept of evaluating people based on what they do for a living.

Our society has always put heavy emphasis on determining how much respect to give someone based on their profession…until now. We live in a culture where the phrase, “What do you do?” is asked as frequently, if not more so, than, “How are you?” Let’s be honest, we are all guilty of sizing up someone we’ve just met and making huge assumptions about them based on what they say they do for work. But in an economy like this, job status suddenly shifts. Those employed, regardless of their education or job title, have everyone’s attention. This shift has a profound impact on how we connect with others. It helps us to see people differently, and in many cases, build relationships with those we might not have bothered to connect with in the past.

For example, getting a college degree has always been a status climber in America, but watch this 20/20 segment and you’ll have a whole new respect for the savvy individual who opted to work their way through trade school. In short, a new set of careers suddenly becomes “attractive” in a recession.

3. Forces people to make choices and have experiences they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Needing to pay the bills can make even the most discerning job seeker take work that will provide a paycheck. In doing so, people make new and often valuable connections, and in some cases, even discover new career paths.

A young man I knew took a job bartending after college at a local country club. He had a degree in finance, but couldn’t land a job. Instead, he spent several months serving drinks to the club members. He got to know a lot of the regulars quite well, to the point he would get their drinks ready as they walked in the door without them asking. One day, one of the members who had been particularly impressed by the bartender’s attentiveness and professionalism asked him about his background. The grad shared his story of getting a degree but not being able to find work. The member gave him his business card and the name of a person at his office to call for an interview. One week later, the former bartender was in a new full-time job.

These are just a few of the things a recession can do to help careers. I’m sure there are more. Share your thoughts below.

How is the current economy changing your definition of career success and your thoughts around the best way to achieve it?

[This article was originally posted on an earlier date]

J.T. O’Donnell is the founder of CAREEREALISM.com and CEO of CareerHMO.com, a web-based career development company.

Photo credit: Shutterstock


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    dorahazel

    about 2 years ago

    18 comments

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  • Hpim7057_max50

    alla_topal

    almost 4 years ago

    4 comments

    I do agree with most above said, and I truly believe that crises can open new opportunities for people and change their lives for better , as long as they spot the opportunity and make a correct decision.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    xupahuma

    about 4 years ago

    18 comments

    Julia. although Tammy`s stori is nice, last saturday I bought a new Ford Focus from making $6307 this-last/5 weeks and just a little over ten thousand lass month. this is actually the most-comfortable work I have ever had. I began this 5 months ago and almost straight away made minimum $78, per-hour. I use the details on this website,, http://www.Cloud65.com

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    silvano

    over 4 years ago

    8 comments

    These days many must CREAT thier own job. There are a few ways to do this. If you are sufficiently knowledgable in one or more fields (and it doesn't have to be something majored in college. Say you work out and studied anabolism, catabolism , diet etc one could post adds ( many are free) as a personal trainor or diet consultant , or promote adds for a lecture and when they come , bill 'em. These are just a few money making ideas I'll promote. I'm available for " one career- several income streams". Since times are difficult I'll ONLY accept donations i. e. I won't charge you. Email me at silvanolombardi@ymail.com Hopefully , if you put the footwork in( I'll tell you exactly what to do ) you are GUARANTEED TO MAKE $.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    NewGrad_T

    over 4 years ago

    2 comments

    Well, that's one way to rationalize.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    McG_Kailene28

    almost 5 years ago

    4 comments

    I enjoyed reading this article. As a working professional to let go or be let go from a position can take a toll on one's sense of self. I agree too many individuals define themselves by their job title and accomplishments, rather than their self-worth, family and personal beliefs. As a Christian, I know that people usually use the world's definition of success. However, the world view can often limit view of self outside of work. I choose to define myself outside of the traditional view (aka my professional career) because I learned early that a position is easy to come and just as easily the same position is easily terminated without regard to individual needs. Working as a Academy Teacher I learned that titles are meaningless unless you have the skills and credentials to back up what "said title" defines your duties at the said time. My layoff was the perfect time to complete my graduate studies and continue building my skills, increasing my knowledge base while advancing my career. I grateful for the opportunity that God has given me. Hopefully, more people despite the recession will see down time as a blessing instead of a shortfall.

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    gdavidsalmeron

    about 5 years ago

    4 comments

    I work at a 4 star hotel and met several business people, however, most assume that one isn't educated or qualified to fill a needed position in their company.

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    LeoBWilliamson

    about 5 years ago

    2 comments

    Ultimately, we choose what we take from our experiences and that choice gives us power over our circumstances. I have been out of work for a little over a year and as a result I have become more focused and determined to fulfill a life long dream.

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    mspencer2012

    over 5 years ago

    8 comments

    Bartending isn't unskilled labor. In most states you have to get licensed to be one. #3 may not prove true for unskilled jobs, but that particular case could happen still.

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    Epiengineer

    over 5 years ago

    2 comments

    I don't think number 3 ever occurs. Most places that are looking for unskilled employees would never hire someone with a degree because we are "over-qualified" and "will leave in an instant for another job with our degree." I have been trying to find even the most menial, minimum wage job and it's the same story over and over.

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    monsteriscallingme

    over 5 years ago

    2 comments

    Just threee wks. ago tomorrow, I was called and asked if I could come to a meeting between the Director of Nursing and the Social Worker. After arriving and sitting down the meeting started. Later, I found myself unemployed. Though I feel I didn't do anything wrong or caused harm to anyone, I got blamed. None of my co-workers came to my defense. This really hurts, and makes me feel I can't trust anyone any longer. Its taking me a long time to recover from this ordeal.
    Am ready to get up and start fresh, and put this uhappy occurence behind me. Been in the nursing field(Certified Nurses Aide) for the past 8 yrs., am really wanting to get my Certified Medication Aide certificate. Have always been intriqued with medicine. Been researching as to where to go and received financial aide to get the ball rolling. Being unemployed and waiting to see if I get unemployment, there is no way I can afford paying out-of-pocket for the CMA course.
    Being a middle aged woman, I can only take one day at a time. Thank you for listening.

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    cgoldboroTy

    almost 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I am a child of God with a real relationship with Christ, in being so I do not do things as the world does, I live in this world but am not of the world. you may ask yourself what does that mean. It means that whatever I have been taught by the world if it doesn't line up with God's word I cast it out and renew my mind with the word of God. I sincerely believe that this country needs to return to it's first love God the father and it would be better for it. But, as always man thinks he knows better than God. I lost my job last year in May, the company closed because of money, now we are talking about an Administrative office of H&R Block, there was only two of these offices in the country and they sent all the work to the other office in Kansas city. I do believe that people judge you according to what your title is, which is wrong we are not what we do, people should want to be in your presence because they see Jesus in your countenance. So, I worry not my God will supply all my needs according to his riches in Glory. As well as work everything out for my good.

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    reece0001

    almost 6 years ago

    2 comments

    well I agree with some of what was said I think that we should not size anyone up just because they have a interesting job title anyhow. Now there are alot of people without jobs and not getting any friendly reminders on how expensive things are. People like employers need to stop being so greedy with their money and realize that without the employees they would not be where they are in the first place.
    Also without a little kindness and someone giving them a chance they would have never had a chance in the first place...

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    chazjg

    almost 6 years ago

    2 comments

    Wow. I feel so inspired. Just like Obama with his hope and change.

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    dhowell57

    almost 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I disagree. There are no good things that come with a RIF. I cite the CEO as having final responsibility for the failure and debacle of of RIF, and the pain, agony and financial devastation it causes for families and individuals when you are unexpectedly let go.