How to protect your job in an uncertain economy

Things are … weird. Can you feel it?

The governments’s partial shutdown is dragging on. Economists are predicting “a Smorgasbord recession” will hit some time this year. The Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates, but might put future hikes on hold for fear of global financial insecurity.

The economy feels … sketchy. And for my fellow millennials, this can be a triggering reminder of the Great Recession of 2008, which set up our generation to stumble just as we were just starting our careers.

It’s times like these where it’s easy to get risk-averse. To hunker down. To live small. Well, today I want to share a few reasons why that’s the worst possible thing you can do right now – and how to act deliberately and intentionally to protect your job security in an uncertain economy.

1. Talk to everyone in the industry

Now is the time to double down on your network. Seriously. Building strong relationships is one of the best ways to buffer against being lost in an economic storm. We’re all going to need friends in high places or just in places if things go south. They can refer you for other positions within their institutions if needed, and share what industry trends they’re seeing, too. You want people to keep you in mind. And it’s always better to foster friendships when you’re not asking for anything.

Plus, if you’ve been considering jumping ship for a while now, strengthening your network can accelerate your career change. Because if your workplace doesn’t feel like the right fit now, you might not want to hunker down there to try and ride out an economic storm. If you’re not already getting along with your boss or colleagues, you might be easy target for layoffs and restructuring if the company has to decide who they can live without.

And for freelancers and entrepreneurs like me, talking to all your friends in the industry is also a great way to double-down on business development, which we should all be doing right now.

2. Check in with your manager

Another proactive move to ensure your institution values you and your efforts is to check in early and often with your managers. Make sure your hard work is visible and show that you’re a team player, ready to work for the good of the entire organization.

Check in regularly to ask how you can align your priorities with your bosses’ top objectives and ensure that you’re pulling in the same direction. All people want to feel heard and respected – including your boss. So the best way you can protect your own ass, is to make sure you’re doing all in your power to make them look good, too.

3. Retool

While I understand the instinct to tighten the belt during uncertain times, the one exception is to make investments in your own professional development. How can you invest in yourself to make you an even more valuable team player at work? Are there extra certifications you can get? Is there new software to master? Can you hone your leadership skills through training, frankly, like what we do at Bossed Up Bootcamp?

The key here is to make yourself more valuable to your team and to your employer. Show them you’re the kind of worker who goes the extra mile to better yourself proactively, and it might just make the difference when the higher-ups are comparing the costs of losing you versus someone else.

4. Boost your emergency fund

Finally, when the future feels uncertain, do all you can to shore up your emergency fund. You don’t want to find yourself over-leveraged or with a too-tight-for-comfort cash flow. If the ideal goal of saving three month’s worth of living expenses feels too daunting, break it down into smaller, more manageable steps and start there.

Future you will thank you for the sacrifices you’re making now to ensure you’re not living off credit later, should things take a turn for the worst.

Keep calm and keep bossin’

With a ton of fear-mongering rhetoric coming out of Washington these days, the best we can do it to keep calm and carry on, as our friends across the pond might say.

All indicators point to a more subdued market correction coming our way, which is not nearly as severe as the economic crisis spurred on by sub-prime mortgages and the ensuing financial crisis of a decade ago.

Part of being a boss is being willing to step into an uncertain future, with the calm confidence in your ability to figure it out as you go.

This article was originally published on Bossed Up.