How to find a job in a recession: A guide for IT talent
During the back half of 2022, companies including Alphabet, Amazon, Meta, Microsoft, and Twitter laid off employees by the thousands and implemented organization-wide hiring freezes. The tech industry is facing an economic downturn, partially sparked by higher interest rates and reduced consumer spending, and the U.S. could be facing a recession in 2023. Top economists, 98% of CEOs, and the World Bank all believe that is the direction the global economy is headed.
With this as a labor market backdrop, the thought of searching for a job might seem daunting. However, with the right approach, you can find a job that will further your career in any economy. This article will provide you with 5 job search tips during a recession that will help you stand out from the pack and keep your career on track.
1. Treat tech job search like a job.
Listen, you joined tech for a reason and this job search is the perfect opportunity to reengage with roles that remind you why you selected this industry. Instead of being like the many others who quickly apply to opportunities, approach this journey differently by searching with intentionality.
Brainstorm. Spend time visualizing and brainstorming on what you want your next role to be and write out the skills and certifications you have or need to reach that next step.
Research. Commit to researching job descriptions that align with the roles you desire and customize your resumes to include keywords, skills and certifications you’ve gained. Adding these key words and phrases that align with the job description will drastically improve your chances of having a recruiter review your resume as many companies use a software to scan your resume for keywords and phrases relevant to the job prior to a human recruiter viewing the document. This may result in you having five versions of your resume that promote your skills and experience for four different job types.
Interview. If you are selected for an interview, SHOW UP. You committed the time and effort perfecting your resume, so it’s important to spend the same intentional energy practicing your interviewing skills and learning more about the company and job you desire.
2. Leverage your network in IT and beyond.
Remember the old saying, “Your Network is your net worth”? Building a diverse network of individuals in IT will make you more knowledgeable and marketable during your job hunt. Building relationships and expanding your network can be intimidating but these three tips can set you apart from other applicants.
Request informational meetings. Build connections with IT professionals who have the jobs you desire and/or insight into the industry. Message them and request a 15-minute meeting. Spend this meeting time asking well thought out questions about the industry, advice for your job search and any tips and tricks that they learned throughout their career journey. Building this connection gives you the ability to deepen your network connections and use this knowledge gained in your interviews. It may also result in gaining access to other opportunities.
Update your Linkedin Profile. Linkedin is a powerful source that gives employers access to millions of people seeking jobs. Differentiate yourself by updating your LinkedIn profile to include your skills, certifications and experience. Also, include that you are ‘Open to Work’ so recruiters see this in their searches, and they may reach out to you knowing you are ready to work.
Attend YUPRO Placement’s Jobseeker Bootcamp. This monthly, free service will give you tips and tricks on resume building, interviewing and maximizing your Linkedin profile.
Remember, networking can be intimidating, but that is natural. You’re not using your network to get a job or asking for favors. You’re simply leveraging your relationships so you can make yourself more knowledgeable and marketable.
3. Consider jobs outside your IT area of expertise.
Consider the skills you’ve gained that could be transferable to other positions, even if those positions aren’t what you want to do long term. For example, if you have experience working on an IT help desk, then you have customer service and customer trouble-shooting experience, problem solving, and communication skills. These transfer to many other job opportunities, such as call centers roles in other industries, and even hospitality management.
Working with a recruiter allows you to discuss your core competencies and determine what other roles might be suitable based on your transferable skills. Remember, searching for a job outside your direct area of expertise doesn’t mean you’re giving up on your current job, but instead pivoting for now to gain additional skills and experience in order to recession proof your career path.
4. Refresh your resume.
When it comes to your resume format, think SEE (Skills, Experience, Education).
Skills. Highlight skills that transfer across industries alongside your most relevant accomplishments. Based on the job you’re applying for, emphasize the right qualifications, prioritizing information that is most relevant to the role for which you are applying.
Experience. List your employment history with the most recent role first and ending with your first job. Include the company, your title, and the month and date you began and ended working there. Each bullet should begin with a new action verb and highlight a skill or accomplishment (backed up with data whenever possible). Ensure that industry-appropriate language and key words are included, where appropriate. You can even use language from the job description, Just don’t overdo it!
As for gaps in experience, typically anything under three months isn’t a big hurdle for employers today. And no matter how long the gap is, you can speak to how your job search is going, what upskilling and certifications you’re pursuing, and any other work or volunteering you’re doing during that period.
Education. This includes certifications, part-time school, community college, or upskilling as any post-secondary learnings that may not include a 4-year school. Employers want to see commitment, consistency, reliability, work ethic, and transferable skills to meet their business objectives so include all of your learnings in your customized resume.
Tailor your resume to each job, as most companies rely on an applicant tracking system, which is software that helps recruiters collect, sort, scan, and rank the job applications they receive for their open positions. If your resume isn’t customized to the specific position, including keywords that match job skills and certifications, it likely won’t make the cut.
5. Practice. Practice. Practice.
Whether you need help interviewing, building a resume, or leveraging LinkedIn, practice will help you optimize these skills. For example, depending how long you were in your latest position, you might not have polished your interviewing skills lately. Mock interviews can help tremendously to prepare you for the main event. Ask a friend to listen to your interview answers and get feedback. Open a Zoom window and record yourself answering interview questions, then watch yourself to gain self-awareness and refine your answers. And research top interview questions and prepare your answers to questions such as these to nail your next interview.
During our weekly office hours, you can ask questions about interviewing, have experts review your resume, and get tips for optimizing LinkedIn.
Use your creativity to fuel an IT job search.
With the right approach, you can land a job in today’s job market. It will take a bit of extra effort and creativity, but by staying open minded and incorporating many of these tips you can find a job in a down economy. We hope this article has given you some ideas on how to get started.
If you’d like to learn more about job search strategies, visit YUPRO Placement’s Jobseeker page to register for our Jobseeker Bootcamp or weekly office hours.