How to Help Clients Navigate a Potential Recession

Downward pointing arrow indicating economic downturn, potential recession

You’ve heard the news by now. A potential recession is on the horizon in 2023; not only for Canada but possibly, globally. As inflation runs rampant, driving up our cost of living, and with the Bank of Canada increasing interest rates, many Canadian families are struggling to keep up with growing financial demands. The last thing any of us need to worry about is layoffs, but, sadly, they will be a reality for many this year. Read on to learn how you can help clients navigate and survive a potential recession.

How is a Recession Defined?

Investopedia’s definition of a recession is “a significant, widespread, and prolonged downturn in economic activity. A common rule of thumb is that two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product (GDP) growth mean recession, although more complex formulas are also used.”

While the Canadian job market far exceeded expectations in December 2022, reporting over 100K jobs being added compared to the 5K job additions predicted by economists, that didn’t mean that excess goods and services were being produced. Even with these jobs being added, economists are still predicting an economic downturn with an increase in unemployment.

How Can Career Professionals Help?

As career practitioners, one of the most proactive things we can do in the face of economic uncertainty is to help our clients prepare themselves as best they can. The reality is that change always happen. The unexpected, such as labour market shifts, restructurings, and economic downturns are inevitable. What counts is how we choose to approach change!

Here are 10 helpful strategies, tactics, and tips that our clients can pursue to recession-proof their careers:

1. Stay calm and harness emotional intelligence.

When facing a recession, it is so easy to give into feelings of panic or anxiety because of the vast uncertainty and impact of the event on different aspects of our lives. As career professionals, we need to be change agents for our clients and guide them as they embrace the change with a positive and empowering mindset. We encourage them to leverage their resilience and emotional intelligence. A recession can spark unexpected shifts in attitude and optimism. Support clients with a different perspective and guide them to develop innovative solutions that will help them weather the storm.

2. Encourage your client to seek constructive feedback from their supervisor.

Taking this vital step will help your client understand their status in the company and how they can improve. It will also help them plan for the future.

3. Help the client to understand and articulate their unique value.

Support the client as they review and analyze their strengths, as well as their career milestones. What specific value do they bring to the table? Encourage your client to take stock of their value and garner feedback from stakeholders such as co-workers or customers. A client who understands their unique value proposition and how they can channel it in a strategic way will enhance their competitive advantage in the labour market.

4. Champion your client to step up their game at work.

Inspire your client to maintain solid performance at work by putting in extra effort and initiating participation in key projects and contributing innovative ideas. The last employees to be laid off are often those who drive results and demonstrate a can-do attitude.

5. Update the client’s résumé.

While career practitioners encourage continual résumé updates to be prepared for opportunities, we also recognize that few people actually keep their résumés up-to-date. Don’t forget that Career Professionals of Canada’s member directory features many talented, certified résumé writers you can refer your clients to.

6. Upgrade skills.

Some industries will be less impacted by a recession than others and select skills will be in more demand than others. So, help your clients take inventory of their current skills and explore opportunities to upgrade them. Remind clients that investing in continuous learning is an excellent way to stay marketable. For example, there are 10 marketable skills that, when developed, will help your clients recession-proof their careers:

  • Digital Literacy
  • Communications
  • Adaptability
  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Creativity
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Time Management
  • Financial Literacy
  • Leadership Skills
  • Resilience

7. Start a side gig.

Having a Plan B is always helpful for clients navigating unexpected shifts in their role and/or industry. Technology has created limitless potential for people to start side gigs. They can use their online skills to support others online, or take an entrepreneurial approach by leveraging technology to sell their product or service. Enhancing technological skills can help clients stay competitive and remain adaptable to changes in the workplace, while fostering innovation. Some examples of side gigs include: selling handcrafted products on Etsy, providing virtual assistant services, selling ebooks and courses, blogging, etc.

8. Review finances and budget.

Evaluating finances and budget is one of the key things your clients can do to be proactive and ensure they’re able to support the priorities in their lives. Look at where they are spending and find opportunities to cut back and save in the event of a layoff. Engaging in both short-term and long-term planning related to finances and budget is always a wise decision.

9. Network actively in person and online.

Networking is a progressive process that needs to be done consistently, not just when your clients know they are facing potential or real downsizing. Networking online via social media, such as LinkedIn, and in person will help your clients stay on top of changing labour market trends and developments, build relationships, and prospect new opportunities.

10. Stay fit and engage in self-care and wellness.

The best way to be prepared for unexpected shifts is to focus on wellness. Eat healthy foods, exercise, and get enough rest to stay mentally and physically agile. Holistically integrating positive wellness habits will help your client to face challenges with clarity, confidence, and positivity.

For more information on helping your clients navigate their careers during unpredictable times, enrol in CPC’s courses or earn certification credentials.

Lori Jazvac is a passionate, award-winning Master Certified Résumé Strategist and Certified Employment Strategist through Career Professionals of Canada. As a multi-certified Master Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Coach, she specializes in helping clients navigate challenging career transitions. In 2013, an empowering vision inspired Lori to launch Creative Horizons Communications, a holistic career services firm where she virtually supports jobseekers around the globe to embrace their next career milestone. In her spare time, Lori enjoys dance, blogging, watching comedies and reality shows, yoga, and taking long walks in nature.

Conny Lee is a Certified Holistic Narrative Career Practitioner, Online Business Manager for coaches, Certified Career Strategist, Certified Employment Strategist, and Certified Résumé Strategist. She focuses on supporting people to create the career, business, and life they truly desire and love. To learn more, visit Conny’s website at thevisionaryva.com. When she isn’t working, Conny enjoys reading, listening, learning anything related to personal development, spending time with her family, and working out.

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This is wonderful information and it certainly is a good reminder not to take anything for granted and I certainly will talk to my clients and guide them through these challenging times.

Thank you Sylvie,

Your positive feedback is greatly appreciated!

Great strategy for guiding your clients:) Gratitude goes a long way.

While the economy and the labour market pose considerable uncertainty right now, a resilient mindset and a proactive, strategic yet empathetic approach reflect the keys to success.