If you’ve lived in the Puget Sound area long enough you probably know that in a “down” economy, not all sectors are down at the same time. While some areas of the country have experienced significant economic shifts, the Seattle area economy has remained strong. Just look at the development in South Lake Union, Bellevue, and Kirkland, to see what that growth looks like. Well, as we know, what goes up, must come down, and recession proofing your career while the economy is strong, puts you in the driver’s seat, and well-prepared, for when the economy experiences a downward shift.
You can prepare for a recession by developing expertise in several areas of a broader occupational field, or look at how your skills can be applied to other industries. Examine jobs outside of your current industry to see where your skills may be applicable.
A case in point, Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech) offers training and education in the broad field of Computer-Aided Design (CAD), once known as Drafting. The college specializes in the areas of Architecture, Civil, and Mechanical Design technologies. Students can learn about all three during their studies. By having a broader skillset, understanding, and knowledge these areas, they are at an advantage during a recession. When employers, who work in industries that utilize those three areas, look to restructure their workforce, it makes sense to hire/retain employees who are trained in all three key areas, rather than hire three separate people.
Another example is a few years ago, a large e-commerce company in Seattle hired several Digital Gaming and Interactive Media graduates from LWTech, because of their experience working in 3D modeling. They never thought of working in the e-commerce industry when they finished their program, they thought they’d work in the gaming and entertainment industries. They saw opportunity in a growth area, and pivoted, which made them more marketable. They now have experience working in three growing industries.
Now is the time to evaluate how your skills can be applied to other industries, and to add skills where needed. Take a look at what occupations are similar to what you do now, and identify if you need to upskill your training to be more marketable and well-rounded. By preparing for a recession now, you’ll be the one who stands out, and is irreplaceable.
Dr. Amy Morrison is the president of Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech) and Mike Potter is Dean of Instruction at LWTech.