While the tech industry tends to be more resilient in the face of recession than others, no industry is wholly immune from economic downturns. Even with technology becoming an increasing necessity in the wake of Covid-19, tech companies have still experienced layoffs, adjustments and other shocks to the system.
That’s why it’s vital for tech professionals to “recession-proof” their skills and their careers as far as possible. Below, the members of Forbes Technology Council share 16 things those working in the tech industry can do to protect themselves from the impacts of an economic downturn.
1. Master cloud-based skills.
Companies are rapidly shifting to a “cloud-first” strategy, and they are looking for employees who have cloud expertise. Update your skills to ensure you have cloud certifications and experience with cloud data migrations, cloud data management, cloud infrastructure management and containers—all are very helpful. Take advantage of partner certification and training programs, which are sometimes free. – Krishna Subramanian, Komprise
2. Join industry groups and network.
First, continue to learn. It is essential that you continue to hone your craft and stay on top of industry trends. Second, join industry groups with diverse experts to broaden your knowledge of tech areas outside of your own bubble. Third, network. It’s important to build genuine relationships with others in the industry and stay connected with them for when you need to make career shifts. – Georgette Fraser-Moore, Transformation Lead LLC
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3. Keep learning.
Keep learning at the forefront of your career. Make sure you recognize what you’re learning on the job and how to supplement that with training from websites like LinkedIn Learning and YouTube. Also, leverage your education with your training to find what makes you uniquely qualified for any position. – Tim Kulp, Mind Over Machines
4. Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses.
Recessions and economic downturns are a forcing function for prioritization and focus. Every tech professional should reflect on their core strengths and weaknesses. It is an opportunity to grow and invest in areas that have been ignored or de-prioritized due to other distractions. – Krishna Raja, SupportLogic, Inc.
5. Gauge the risk of each career decision.
The best alternative for tech professionals is to gauge the risk of every step they take, whether it is implementing new software platforms or acquiring a new client. Also, it is advisable to make yourself difficult to replace, as skilled tech professionals will always be in demand in the market. Lastly, never be picky when choosing projects—take what comes your way. – Chitiz Agarwal, Techila Global Services LLC
6. Learn to be adaptable.
For technology professionals, adaptability is the key to surviving a recession. Adaptability isn’t something you’re born with; it’s a skill set you build. The simplest way to accomplish this is to maintain a breadth of knowledge that’s proportional to your depth. Being the foremost expert on one thing is a great way to be out of a job when that thing loses priority. – Joe Onisick, transformationCONTINUUM
7. Upgrade your technological and management expertise.
Tech professionals in a leadership position should leverage online learning processes for the employees in their teams and automate IT processes wherever possible. Embrace the innovations in the industry and implement new technology with a return on investment plan that’s aligned with the company’s goal, mission and vision. – Syed Mohammed Azeez ul Hasan, Rosewood Cordevalle
8. Stay curious.
Cultivate your curiosity! For thousands of years, society’s youth learned skills that could support them for the rest of their lives. Today’s pace of innovation means that if you’re not developing professionally, you risk becoming obsolete. While there’s no way to “recession-proof” your career—bad luck happens—the more relevant your skill set, the better you’ll fare in a tough labor market. – Jennifer Redmon, Cisco Systems
9. Stay up to date on industry trends and search for new use cases.
In spite of economic downturns, technological advances continue to move at a blistering pace. A technology professional has to stay on their “A” game by being current and practiced, reading about and understanding new inventions, and perhaps most importantly, learning how to apply new inventions in novel use cases for mankind. This prescribes and describes innovation. Engineers become resilient through innovation. – Frank Prautzsch, Birmingham Technologies, Inc.
10. Look outside the tech industry.
No industry is wholly immune from an economic downturn. However, almost every company is now a tech company, so even if the economic downturn comes, the market for tech pros with in-demand skills and experience will remain strong for the foreseeable future. You might not control the economy, but your skills will always help motivate you to look outside of your industry if the situation demands it. – Vishal Yadav, symplr
11. Look for new ways to deliver value.
Always look for ways to innovate, which means finding new approaches that deliver value. The innovation muscle is based on both science and intuition and tends to get stronger with more experience—as long as you maintain a fresh set of eyes. During downturns, innovators always have an important place as drivers of future company growth. – Steven Mih, Ahana
12. Help people in your network.
Invest in your network. Reach out to one person in your network every day and ask how you can help them, with nothing expected in return. Building a habit of helping those in your network is not just personally fulfilling—in times of a downturn, you’ll have built a reputation as someone who always provides value (rather than just seeking it), which can help open doors to your next big move. – Robb Henshaw, Cameyo
13. Make and maintain professional connections.
Strive hard to make new connections and maintain your existing ones. Growing your network and staying connected will help you learn about new opportunities and find new employment much faster. Scheduling coffee over a video chat with past colleagues and attending virtual industry events are great ways to start networking. – Pritesh Parekh, Virtustream LLC, a Dell Technologies business
14. Build skills that drive transformations.
Recessions almost always trigger massive transformation. Technology professionals with skills that drive such transformation will thrive even during a recession. In the current Covid-19 slowdown, cloud, AI and RPA are perfect examples. Cybersecurity is another great example—companies can choose to shave off a few projects, but they cannot choose to stop protecting their digital assets. – Ravi Ivaturi, Citigroup Inc.
15. Develop a ‘can-do’ attitude.
To be a tech professional who is “recession-proof,” understand the business and the opportunities for improvement within your organization. Be the person with the “can-do” attitude instead of the person who hides behind security issues and other IT roadblocks and prevents the business from innovating. A “can-do” attitude is always welcome in any industry and any economic environment. – Tammy Hawes, Virsys12
16. Build up your people skills.
Another certification won’t help you as much as being the person the IT department sends to meetings with the rest of the business. Be the one in your department who knows the needs and gripes of the users. Be the one they call when there is a problem. You can outsource technology skills; you can’t outsource knowledge of your own corporate culture. – Kevin Parikh, Avasant