How to Find a Job in a Recession

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May 12, 2023
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min read

If you've been looking for a job this past year, then you know how discouraging it can feel at times. And when you read the news, the same themes keep popping up: massive layoffs, inflation, and the rising costs of living.

Then, one of those articles inevitably uses a word every job hunter fears, “recession.” This can reasonably lead you to wonder whether we’re in a recession right now and, if we are, how do you find a job in a recession?

Fortunately, these are the exact types of questions we’ll clear up in this article. Let’s look at what you can concretely expect to take away from this read. 

3 key takeaways 

  • No, we are not in a recession (though it can feel that way sometimes) 
  • How you can find a job in a recession for entry-level, mid-level, and senior-level roles
  • How you can recession-proof your job search with tools like Teal

What is a recession?

A recession is an economic downturn characterized by a decline in the economy over a long period of time, usually lasting for at least a few months. During a recession, you'll typically see a drop in key economic indicators, such as gross domestic product (GDP), employment, investment spending, and business profits. 

Recessions are a normal part of the business cycle, and it's important to note that recessions are not always negative

They can serve as a natural correction in the economy, allowing it to shed inefficiencies that have built up during periods of growth. In this sense, recessions can pave the way for renewed economic growth and innovation. 

But let’s not sugarcoat anything here. 

Recessions can also lead to job losses or reduced incomes for individuals and businesses. That's why governments and central banks often intervene to minimize the impact of a recession and stimulate a return to growth.

Are we currently in a recession?

The U.S. is not in a recession, but economists can’t promise a recession isn’t coming. 

Here’s some good news: In the last quarter of 2022, the U.S. economy grew by 2.9% (followed by a 3.2% growth in Q3). And in the first quarter of 2023, the GDP rose by 1.1%. Plus, the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in decades. 

That said, this growth doesn’t indicate the economy is safe from a downturn. 

Here are two of the most interesting findings from the National Association of Business Economics’s (NABE) latest report

  • The Net Reemployment Index (NRI) dropped to zero, the lowest since July and October 2022 (a negative NRI can signal an economic downturn)
  • Roughly 50% of the panelists from the survey believe the U.S. will be in a recession within the next 12 months 

So while the U.S. is not in a recession right now, that doesn’t mean one isn’t on the way. Let’s dive deeper into what you can expect from the job market during a recession. 

What is the job market like in a recession?

During a recession, the job market can be challenging for job seekers. Several trends tend to impact the job-hunting experience during an economic downturn:

  • Higher unemployment: Recessions usually increase unemployment rates as businesses reduce hiring or lay off workers to cope with reduced demand and lower profits. 
  • Slower job growth: Companies are generally cautious about expanding their workforce during a recession, which results in slower job growth. 
  • Wage stagnation or decline: In a weak job market, employers may be less willing to offer competitive salaries, and wage growth may stagnate or even decline. 
  • Increased focus on skills and experience: As the job market becomes more competitive, employers may emphasize experience most, making it harder for those with limited qualifications to secure a job.
  • Gig economy growth: During a recession, companies may be more inclined to hire temporary or contract workers instead of full-time employees to cut costs and maintain flexibility.

That said, “challenging” has never meant “impossible.” With the right tools and strategies, you can increase your odds of getting a job in a recession. 

How to find a job in a recession

Whether or not the economy is in a recession, your field might not grow as fast as you’d like. For example, in 2023, over 135,000 have been laid off by U.S.-based tech companies, according to Crunchbase

And while recession-proof jobs and recession-proof industries may exist, the truth is that recessions carry a ripple effect that impacts most business sectors. 

With that in mind, let’s look at a few tips to find a job during a recession, depending on where you are in your career. That way, you can create a strategic job search plan that secures a new position in the shortest possible time. 

If you’re looking for an entry-level role

Entry-level job seekers can employ specific strategies to help them find a job during a recession. Here are a few practical tips tailored specifically to entry-level job seekers:

1) Emphasize transferable skills on your resume and cover letter 

When writing your resume, highlight the transferable skills you have acquired through internships, volunteer work, extracurricular activities, or coursework. 

These skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and teamwork, can be valuable across various industries and roles, making you a more attractive candidate even with limited work experience. 

But this begs the obvious question, “How do you showcase transferable skills on a resume?”

This is where a tool like Teal’s AI Resume Builder comes in handy.

First, with Teal, you can analyze all of your job descriptions to determine which type of skills your hiring manager is looking for: 

Then you can look at your personal experience and determine which skills you’ve demonstrated that are transferable to the current position. 

For example, imagine you're scanning a job posting for a marketing coordinator position, and it's clear that the hiring manager values strong communication, teamwork, and project management skills. 

You think back to your time as a volunteer for a local charity event, where you successfully led a team of fellow volunteers in organizing the entire event. 

You demonstrated excellent communication skills by coordinating with stakeholders like sponsors and venue managers. You also collaborated with fellow volunteers, and your project management skills were evident in your ability to juggle multiple tasks and meet deadlines.

With Teal, you can quickly add the relevant keywords from your experiences that match those in the job description to your resume, even using our built-in generative AI to help beat the blank page when needed: 

Then, just click on the Cover Letter icon at the top of your dashboard: 

And you can generate a personalized cover letter that includes your transferable skills in seconds: 

Use the AI functionality within Teal’s AI Resume Builder to tailor multiple versions of your cover letter.
Use the AI functionality within Teal’s AI Resume Builder to tailor multiple versions of your cover letter.

Ready to dive in and start creating your resume or cover letter?

Sign up for Teal 100% risk-free and see how easy it is to personalize all your application materials in a single platform. 

Bonus: Interested in using generative AI to improve your resume? We believe job seekers should use every tool at their disposal, so here is a helpful resource on how to write a resume with ChatGPT.

@teal_hq Saving time in your job search is the best way to also alleviate stress so here are 10 ways you can do that with ChatGPT. From resume bullets, skills, interviews questions to a new LinkedIn about - it’s all here. Let us know if you would like to see even more ways and don’t forget to check out the playlist below for more! #resume #resumetips #resumebuilder #chatgpt #openai #jobsearch #jobsearchtips #jobinterviewtips #linkedintips #linkedinprofile ♬ Say So (Instrumental Version) [Originally Performed by Doja Cat] - Elliot Van Coup

2) Pursue internships or apprenticeships

Your biggest struggle will be proving to hiring managers that you have the experience necessary to do the job (and to do it well). 

Consider taking on internships, apprenticeships, or temporary roles that can provide you with valuable experience and connections in your desired field. These opportunities can help you gain a foothold in the industry, even during a recession, and lead to full-time employment later on.

When going after internships, however, you’ll still need to send a professional resume and a short cover letter. 

Never sent an application or cover letter before? No worries, we’ve got you covered! A good place to get started is with this guide on how to write a job application email

3) Network on LinkedIn

Networking on LinkedIn can be a game changer for entry-level job seekers looking to land their first job. By connecting with professionals in their desired industry, job seekers can gain valuable insights into what it takes to succeed in that field and learn about potential job opportunities. 

And building a solid network will increase your visibility to recruiters and hiring managers who may be searching for new talent on the platform. 

But what if your LinkedIn profile isn’t quite ready for a hiring manager to view? 

For that, try Teal's LinkedIn Profile Review tool: 

Teal’s Free LinkedIn Profile Review Chrome Extension.
Teal’s Free LinkedIn Profile Review Chrome Extension.

This helps you optimize your LinkedIn profile and stand out to recruiters, increasing your odds of getting a job. 

It’s a free Chrome extension that doesn’t take any technical configuration to get started. Once synced with your LinkedIn account, it’ll analyze your profile and give you personalized recommendations for improvements. 

Not only will this help you look better for the positions you’ve applied to, but it will help you show up in search results for recruiters (i.e., it might just land you a job you weren’t expecting!).

Try out Teal's LinkedIn Profile Review tool today!

If you’re looking for a mid-level role

Here are some tips tailored specifically to mid-level job seekers:

1. Showcase your accomplishments 

As a job seeker aiming for a mid-level position, showcasing your accomplishments is key to standing out among other candidates. You need to emphasize the impact you've had in your previous roles, highlighting your achievements in a way that captures a potential employer's attention. 

When discussing your successes, use quantifiable metrics such as increased revenue, improved efficiency, or reduced costs to illustrate your value. When you can demonstrate that you’ve made a beneficial or (ideally) profitable impact in your previous companies, it’s much easier to land that interview. 

A strong and confident presentation of your accomplishments can make all the difference in landing that desired mid-level role.

2. Be open to lateral moves

While you may be seeking career advancement, it's important to be open to lateral moves during a recession. This flexibility can help you find new opportunities, expand your skill set, and maintain your employability until the job market improves.

That said, embracing lateral moves doesn't mean you have to settle for a job you don't like. In fact, it can be an opportunity to negotiate a better salary, benefits, and professional tasks that align with your interests. 

When considering a move to a new company, even if it doesn't come with a better title immediately, you need to focus on the bigger picture. During a recession, it's all about staying proactive and adaptable. 

So, don't shy away from lateral moves – they can be an essential stepping stone in your career journey, leading to a brighter professional future.

That said, savvy job seekers know that when given a choice, sometimes you’re allowed to choose “both.” You can apply to multiple positions simultaneously, with some positions being a lateral movement and some positions being a professional step forward. 

But if you want to apply to multiple jobs and stay organized along the way, there’s no better solution than Teal’s Job Application Tracker:

Use Teal’s Free Job Application Tracker to help you organize and manage your job search.
Use Teal’s Free Job Application Tracker to help you organize and manage your job search.

This lists out all the job openings you’ve applied to (or are currently applying to) and tracks it through the following stages of the hiring process: 

  • Bookmarked
  • Applying 
  • Applied 
  • Interviewing 
  • Negotiating 
  • Accepted 

This is an excellent way to stay organized in a centralized platform to effectively follow up on an application with hiring managers and see which ones are getting the most traction. 

@teal_hq Are you tracking your job search? If you aren’t you are missing out on saving valuable hours in your week. An organized job search is an efficient job search and to do that you want to set goals, bookmark jobs through the the Teal chrome extension, and keep the status of jobs updated as you hear back from companies. #jobtracker #jobsearch #jobsearchtips #careertiktok #productivity #careertok ♬ Roxanne - Instrumental - Califa Azul

Teal’s Job Application Tracker comes with the AI Resume Builder, and you can try it out 100% free by clicking here! 

3. Strengthen your personal brand

Develop a strong personal brand that showcases your expertise, accomplishments, and unique value proposition. 

This can include creating a professional website, contributing to industry blogs, or engaging with your professional community on social media platforms. But when it comes to professional networking, there’s no better social platform for building your personal brand than LinkedIn. 

Start by optimizing your LinkedIn profile to reflect your expertise, accomplishments, and unique value proposition. Again, if you can add measurable outcomes to your work experience, that’ll give you a substantial competitive advantage. 

Next, engage with your professional community by sharing relevant content, commenting on industry-related posts, and participating in LinkedIn groups. Don’t hesitate to reach out to others for endorsements and recommendations, as these can significantly boost your credibility (yes, we know it’s awkward, but it’ll be worth it!)

As you’re building your network, consider trying Teal’s Contacts Tracker:

Use Teal’s Contacts Tracker to stay in touch with connections and never miss a follow up.
Use Teal’s Contacts Tracker to stay in touch with connections and never miss a follow up.

This feature lets you add contacts from LinkedIn and set reminders for the right times to reach out to each individual. 

You can track contacts by location, company, and outreach stage to send hyper-personalized messaging that sets you apart from your competition. 

@teal_hq To spend less time job searching and to waste less time along the way you need to be TRACKING all aspects of your search. Keep your jobs saved to a single location so you can easily check up on them, keep track of the contacts you make or plan to reach out to, and keep track of the companies you are excited to work at. #linkedin #networking #jobsearchtips #careertok #jobsearching ♬ Roxanne - Instrumental - Califa Azul

Want to see it in action? Check out Teal’s Contacts Tracker today! 

If you’re looking for a senior-level role

Here are some tips tailored specifically to senior-level job seekers:

1. Emphasize leadership and adaptability

Highlight your leadership skills, strategic thinking, and ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Demonstrate how your experience has prepared you to lead and navigate challenges, which can be particularly appealing to potential employers during a recession.

But you might be reading this and thinking, “Easier said than done.” And we get it! 

That’s why you should try a few of the following actionable tips: 

a. Update your resume and cover letter 

First, take a good look at your resume and make sure you're highlighting specific instances where you've exhibited leadership, strategic thinking, and adaptability. Use strong action verbs, and don't hesitate to quantify your achievements.

Next, let's tackle your cover letter. 

Craft a compelling narrative that outlines your ability to lead and adapt in the face of challenges. Share a story or example demonstrating your resilience and resourcefulness in overcoming obstacles. Remember, your cover letter is your chance to connect with potential employers on a personal level, so make it engaging and impactful.

Again, Teal’s AI Resume Builder is hands down the best resource for helping you get started here. 

b. Prepare for interviews

Be ready to discuss examples of your leadership and adaptability during interviews. Practice answering questions that may arise about your experiences and how they've shaped your approach to problem-solving and decision-making.

Got the pre-interview jitters? Check out this resource hub to prepare for your next interview

c. Showcase your skills on LinkedIn

Use your LinkedIn profile to highlight your leadership and adaptability. Include endorsements and recommendations from colleagues or supervisors who can attest to your capabilities in these areas.

For some quick help, optimize your profile with Teal’s LinkedIn Profile Reviewer

d. Develop a professional portfolio

Create a portfolio that showcases your leadership and adaptability in action. This can include project summaries, case studies, or presentations demonstrating how you've successfully navigated change and led others.

2. Leverage your extensive network

As a senior-level professional, you likely have an established network of contacts. Make the most of these connections to uncover job opportunities and gather industry insights. 

Keep in touch with former colleagues, clients, and peers, and consider joining professional organizations or attending industry events to expand your network further. 

One challenge that many job seekers face, though, is rekindling past professional relationships. 

Reconnecting with old contacts can be a valuable part of your job application process, but it's essential to approach these relationships with sincerity and genuine interest. Consider the following steps and be cautious about coming across as self-serving:

  • Initiate contact: Reach out to your old contacts through email, LinkedIn, or other professional platforms.
  • Be patient: Give the conversation some time to develop naturally. Avoid jumping straight into your job search needs, as it may come across as opportunistic. Instead, focus on rebuilding rapport and reestablishing trust before broaching the topic.
  • Offer help: Look for ways to be of assistance to your contacts. Offer to share resources, provide insights, or connect them with someone in your network who may be helpful to their career.
  • Share your goals: Once you've rekindled the relationship and exchanged updates, you can discuss general job searches you’ve done and any potential opportunities they might be aware of. Do so in a way that highlights your enthusiasm for contributing to their organization or industry.
  • Stay in touch: To maintain a strong professional relationship, keep the lines of communication open. Regularly check in with your contacts, share relevant articles or resources, and congratulate them on their accomplishments. 

Focus on cultivating genuine, mutually beneficial connections that create a solid and supportive professional network, ultimately increasing your chances of landing a great senior-level role.

3. Offer consulting or interim services 

While searching for a permanent role, consider offering your expertise as a consultant or interim executive. This can help you maintain your visibility and credibility in the industry while providing valuable experience and connections that could lead to a full-time position.

To kick off your consulting journey, start by identifying your niche based on your skills and industry knowledge, and develop a straightforward service offering. Outline the services you provide, the value you deliver, and the types of clients you aim to work with.

Set a pricing structure that reflects your experience and the value you bring to clients, and research market rates for consulting services in your industry to remain competitive. But remember, as you take on consulting projects, build a portfolio showcasing your work, complete with case studies and testimonials from satisfied clients.

More than taking these roles for the paycheck, a stronger and more competitive portfolio of your work is what you’re after. 

That way, as more senior-level roles open up, you can throw your hat into the ring. 

Recession-proof your job search confidently with Teal

The good news is that, at this moment, we’re not in a recession. However, economists aren’t sure we’ll hit a recession by the end of 2023. 

Regardless, many of the same principles apply to job seekers regardless of the economy’s strength, such as: 

  • Personalize your resume and cover letter 
  • Focus on measurable achievements in the past 
  • Build your network on social platforms like LinkedIn 
  • Apply to multiple positions at once to increase your odds of landing a job interview 
  • Follow-up with hiring managers  

For most job seekers, the challenge is less about knowing what to do and more about finding the time, energy, and motivation to do it (all while keeping a positive attitude, of course). 

That’s why Teal is such a great solution. It takes out the friction at every step along the way. With Teal’s suite of tools, you can: 

  • Reformat your resume in seconds 
  • Generate personalized resume content and cover letters in a single click 
  • Track each job opening you’ve applied to at every stage 
  • Analyze job postings for key terms you need to use to stand out 
  • Optimize your LinkedIn profile to stand out to hiring managers 
  • Organize contacts to improve your professional network 
  • Autofill your job applications with one Chrome extension

And so much more. But we understand that seeing is believing, so we want you to see it 100% risk-free.

Get started with Teal for free and witness firsthand how easy it is to land your next interview!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most recession-proof industries to consider when looking for a job?

During a recession, certain industries tend to be more stable and even thrive. Healthcare, education, utilities, and consumer staples are typically recession-proof sectors. Focusing your job search on these areas can increase your chances of finding employment during economic downturns, as they continue to provide essential services regardless of the economic climate.

How can I make my resume stand out in a competitive job market during a recession?

To make your resume stand out, tailor it to each job application by highlighting relevant skills and experience. Use quantifiable achievements to demonstrate your impact in previous roles. Additionally, consider adding any recession-relevant skills, such as adaptability, crisis management, or remote work proficiency, to show potential employers that you can contribute positively in challenging times.

Is networking still effective for finding jobs during a recession, and if so, how should I approach it?

Networking remains a powerful tool for job hunting during a recession. Focus on building genuine relationships by offering help and support to others in your network. Attend industry webinars, virtual networking events, and participate in online forums to expand your connections. Personalize your outreach and be clear about what kind of opportunities you're looking for, as people are often more willing to help when they understand your goals.

Nathan Thompson

Nathan is a professional content marketer who's been lucky enough to write for some of the best SaaS brands on the planet, including Twilio, Trello, OptinMonster, TrustPulse, and more. When he's not obsessing over performance metrics, Nathan spends most of his time wrestling around with his kids.

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