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The best ways to find a job during a recession

Written by Guest Contributor

Are we edging closer to a recession right now? The United States of America hasn’t been in a recession since 2009, but with lots of buzz on Wall Street every day about the potential of a tough economy ahead, it’s always better to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

Through times of trouble, finding a job becomes especially difficult. With a shortage of jobs on the market, the unemployment rate skyrockets, leaving many Americans without pay or dependent on the government’s assistance. However, your financial independence is priceless. If you’re entering the job market for the first time during a recession, there are few ways to make your job search a little easier.

Consider graduate school

Over 3 million adults attend grad school every year. Many enroll with the intention of exploring a new career path or to pursue an extra degree to advance their current careers.

No matter what field you’re in or what your motives are for going to grad school, there are advantages and disadvantages of attending a master’s program right after college to avoid being unemployed in a bad job market in the future.

A few of the pros of grad school right after college are that you’ll be able to get a higher degree sooner and potentially get a higher paying job. It’ll build your credibility and expertise, so in a bad job market, employers are more likely to hire you than those with fewer degrees.

However, the potential downsides are that you might not have the time or money and not want to go into more debt right after college, or you miss out on entry-level job experience at a younger age. These downsides are just some of the tradeoffs to consider when pursuing a higher degree right after college.

If you are considering a grad school option like an MBA, you do need to plan ahead for the GMAT exam. Many students need at least 3 to 6 months to prepare for the test and use a GMAT prep course to making studying more efficient.

Earn a professional designation

If getting a full master’s degree doesn’t sound ideal for you, then you might want to consider a professional designation within your chosen field. Not all industries have professional designations, but if you have an accounting or finance degree, this might be a smart option for you.

This biggest benefit is cost. Earning a professional designation typically costs a few thousand dollars compared over $100,000 for a two-year MBA. Earning a professional designation will help you stand out from other job candidates and it demonstrates your work ethic to potential employers.

In the accounting industry, many accountants become Certified Public Accountants by sitting for the CPA exam. In finance, some analysts become Chartered Financial Analysts by taking the CFA exam. These exams are not easy, but they are less expensive than an MBA and often offer a boon to your salary range. The biggest downside tends to be the amount of time required to pass each exam.

Temporarily take a lower-level job

One thing you can start doing right after college is building your career experience by taking lower-level jobs to start out. That will build your experience and your resume, so by the time a recession hits, you’ll have enough career experience for companies to still keep you employed.

There are other positive aspects of this option beyond just earning professional experience too. You can still continue to search for higher-paying jobs, and you don’t have to relocate. Staying in your current region saves you the moving costs, and by postponing grad school, you won’t have to incur any extra debt either.

Chances are, these roles will be more readily available and easier for you to find out whether you’ve just gotten out of college or are getting through a recession. These employers will pay you some money rather than none, which is an additional benefit you’ll receive while building your professional life.

Relocate to a better job market

If you don’t want a lower-paying job to start, then your best bet is to move to a different part of the country with more stable jobs and a better job market. Even during a recession, different regions of the country don’t have the same market conditions, so you can move to an area that provides more opportunity.

It’s critical you research as thoroughly as you can before deciding whether to move. Some jobs require you to be in the area to interview, but moving before landing a job still costs a lot of money and is a risky decision to make. However, if there are many signs that point towards moving to a better location is worth it, then the cost of moving will even out once you get that job. It’s all a cost-benefit analysis to see if moving will make a difference.

Get creative!

Finally, the best way to thrive through a recession is to be creative. If times get hard, creativity will always help you get out of the situation you are in. It all involves being resourceful and maximizing even the smallest opportunities that you’re offered.

I have a friend who wanted to work in the financial services industry. He graduated from college during the last recession in 2009. Rather than endlessly apply for jobs online, he actually found a part-time job as a bartender at a bar in the financial district.

Over time, he started to know many of the young professionals that came into the bar after work. This unusual networking path resulted in his first full-time job in corporate banking.

If you’re looking for work during a recession or are preparing yourself for the worst of times, your creativity can help you figure it out. It’s the one trait that you can take with you no matter where you go or what job you have, so you have every reason to take advantage of it.

About the Author:
Lou Haverty, CFA is the Founder of Financial Analyst Insider which is dedicated to helping young professionals advance their careers.

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