How to Get a Job During a Recession

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If you’ve just graduated from school or been laid off during a recession, you’ve probably noticed that job listings are low while competition is high. While an economic recession isn’t the best circumstance imaginable during your job hunt, it certainly doesn’t mean you won’t get hired.

In this article, we’re going to look at five tips to help you get a job during a recession.

5 Tips for Getting a Job In a Recession

If you’re looking for work in a slow economy, it’s easy to get discouraged. Staying consistent, optimistic and flexible can prove to be a challenge, but the potential reward is certainly worth it.

I talked to Indeed Economist, AnnElizabeth Konkel to get a better understanding of how you can be successful in the job market even in the middle of a slow economy. To get started, Konkel says you should follow these five simple tips:

  1. Update Your Resume
  2. Consider Skills Instead Job Titles
  3. Focus on Growing Industries
  4. Network!
  5. Stay Positive and Flexible

Below, you’ll find more specific advice for making the most of each tip as well as additional resources that can help you get started right away.

1. Update Your Resume

It’s always important to have an up-to-date resume on hand for any opportunities that may arise, but it’s especially important during a recession. Competition is at an all-time high, which means it’s important that you stand out. If you haven’t updated your resume in a while, take the time to see if there’s anything that you can add. Consider these things: 

  • Promotions
  • Certifications
  • Achievements

If you aren’t sure what should be on your resume, read a few current job descriptions for your type of work. Figure out what you’re missing and find a way to get those skills. For example, if most job descriptions in your field mention a specific program, you may need to take a class on the program and then add it to your resume.

“Virtual networking events and online coursework can help you remain competitive, despite the tough economic situation,” suggests AnnElizabeth Konkel, Indeed economist.

For more ways to improve your resume, check out these secrets to resume success. You’ll find nine tips to make your resume stand out including how to rework your objective statement, what to include in your areas of expertise and what to leave off.

Once your resume is up to date, consider any other relevant documents you may want to update including your cover letter or work sample portfolio. If you’ve recently left a job, you may want to get copies of performance records or work samples as well. It’s also not a bad idea to update and/or check-in with your references.

2. Consider Skills Instead of Job Titles

When you’re searching for jobs, especially during a recession, be sure to look past the job title alone. Read the job description closely and look at the skills required, the daily responsibilities and the company that’s hiring. You may find that you’re perfect for a job even it’s not what you originally pictured. 


Of course, this means that you may be taking a step down. Instead of “senior manager,” you may be applying for “manager” positions or something similar. Don’t let this stop you from applying! If you find a job that you can do well and use to showcase your talents, you’ll quickly become an integral part of the team. 

For example, I found the following job posting on Indeed:

Job description on Indeed

I was searching for content writing positions, but after reading this job description, I noticed the skills required include the following: technology use (Microsoft Office), writing, attention to detail, communication, collaboration, motivation, time management and organization.

While “Freelance Resume Writer” may not be the dream job I had in mind, I think I could do it! I would go ahead and apply to this position, especially during a recession.

Beyond the skills, pay attention to the company that’s hiring. You may be able to start at a related position and work your way up at a company in your field. Be sure to apply to companies that you trust and would enjoy working for. While you’re searching, also try to look for work that will withstand the recession.

3. Focus on Growing Industries

Jobs that are in your field will always take priority, but it’s possible that related fields may have more available positions during a recession. If you’re having trouble finding openings for the exact position you’re seeking, consider a related job in a growing industry that’s less-likely to be affected by the current economic conditions. 

“Even if it isn’t a dream job, continue to be open to opportunities as they come along,” advises Konkel. 

Very few industries emerge from slow economy completely unscathed, but growth industries will always need more workers to continue functioning. Unlike retail and construction, jobs in some fields will always be necessary such as health care, education, business, information technology, energy and government among others.

For more specific information on job outlooks, check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This online resource lets you browse jobs by the highest paying, fastest-growing and industry with the most new jobs.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook


You’ll also find job summaries, required entry-level education and last year’s median pay in addition to projected growth. Also, be sure to check out the BLS’ job search tools and resources.

Especially during a recession, it’s important to focus your efforts on sustainable jobs that will offer you some sort of financial security.

4. Network!

One of the best ways to find available jobs is by letting people know you’re looking for one. Reach out to your professional network and social circle to let them know what kind of work you’re looking for. 

If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, set one up now and start making connections. Other great ways to land a job include building your network, both in-person and virtually, as well as applying to jobs online.

“Using job sites like Indeed are a great way to learn about job and internship opportunities,” suggests Konkel. “Also, try to find networking events, and don’t hesitate to reach out to professionals in your field to start building connections.”

You never know what you’ll find through a friend-of-a-friend, a former colleague or classmate. No matter what opportunities arise, keep in mind that each one offers a new way to expand your skill set and your professional network.

5. Stay Positive and Flexible

Perhaps the most important thing is stay positive and flexible while you’re applying for jobs during a recession. 

While you’re looking for full-time work, consider freelancing as a way to earn a paycheck in the meantime. Similarly, don’t be afraid to take a temporary position. Any experience you can gain while waiting for the ideal job to come along will only help you learn or expand your skills. You’ll also be building your professional network in the meantime.

Use your time off during a recession to continue adding to your resume. You can take online classes for free to beef up your list of skills or even pursue formal education. Be sure to think ahead and know this recession won’t last forever.

“I’d encourage people to not be discouraged by how competitive it may feel during a recession,” says Konkel. “Rising competitiveness is reflective of the difficult economic situation — not of their skills.”

Keep applying and continue to pursue companies and fields that interest you. The motivation you maintain throughout a recession could give you the edge necessary to land your dream job.

Final Thoughts

Finding a job in a recession can be difficult, but it’s certainly not impossible. Increase your chances of getting hired by ensuring your resume is up-to-date and that it reflects all your accomplishments. When it’s time to apply, focus on the skills you know you can perform rather than the job title, as that could expand the number of jobs potentially available to you!


While you’re job hunting, continue to build your professional network. Stay active online with websites like LinkedIn and Indeed where you can make virtual connections and find opportunities.

Of course, the most important thing to keep in mind is to remain optimistic and flexible. Know that this recession won’t last forever. Still, the decisions you make during it could have a lasting impact on your career path.

Share your best tips for getting hired in the comments below!

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