Growing Your Career in a Dismal Economy

As uncertainty plagues the economy and job market, I enlisted management consultant Jenny Schade to provide tips on how to navigate careers through tough times.  Jenny’s recommendtions appear in the following four guest posts.   

  When all those around you are losing their heads, you can stand out as exceptional if you keep your wits about you and act like a pro.  Here’s how to stay sharp and find opportunities in the midst of al the despair:

  1. Gets plenty of rest and eat right.  Your Mom knew best.  Especially in times of stress, it’s critical to take care of yourself.  This is no time to pull all nighters worrying about work.  You need your wits and capabilities fully about you to withstand the challenges surrounding you.
  2. Seek cross-functional experiences.  I’ve noticed an interesting trend in my management consulting.  Employees who have a wide variety of experiences are most likely to survive the job cuts and even thrive in the midst of the turmoil.  It makes sense — if you have experience working in the pharmaceutical industry as well as the consumer packaged goods business, you’re twice as marketable. 
  3. Stretch.  Do things faster.  And better.  Be indispensable.  I recently heard of a law firm intern who really stretched when a feisty senior partner demanded that she edit a nasty-looking, lengthy report — easily a two week process.  “When can you have it done? he demanded.  “How about tomorrow?  she replied.  Today that intern is a leader in the firm, thanks to the support of that senior partner she helped years ago. 
  4. Get out of your comfort zone.  Drastic times call for drastic measures when it comes to standing out within your organization.  That old adage, “Just stay off the boss’ radar,” couldn’t be more wrong right now.  This is the time to try things you haven’t done before and be willing to take prudent risks.
  5. Network positively.  People like to be around other who make them feel good.   Contact the folks in your professional network and offer support.  Thank people and acknowledge their contributions.  If you reach out with a positive message, you’ll find others reaching back — and you never know just where that might lead!

Jenny Schade is president of JRS Consulting.  Get more tips from the free JRS newsletter on

2 thoughts on “Growing Your Career in a Dismal Economy

  1. Thanks, Jenny! Any tips on how to “get in” during a dismal economic period? I’m graduating in May and I’m currently looking for a full-time position. I’ve done my share of internships, but it seems like everybody has a hiring freeze right now. Thanks again.

  2. Rosanne, I can’t say enough about the value of internships and volunteer work. Since you’ve done internships, do you have letters of recommendation from your supervisors there? Can they contact colleagues on your behalf? Try to get those letters and include them in your correspondence when you apply for jobs.

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