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The job market is still hot, but that won’t last forever.
In fact, there have already been some signs of a shift, according to John P. Morgan, president of talent development and transition firm Lee Hecht Harrison.
To be sure, the most recent data shows strong job growth in June. However, that assessment looks backward and not forward, Morgan explained.
Right now, his firm is seeing hiring slow for some private-equity and venture-capital backed companies. There have even been some hiring freezes in some of LHH’s Fortune 1000 clients, he said.
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Meanwhile, planned layoffs jumped 57% in June from a month ago, according to job placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Chatter is also heating up about possible layoffs coming to Wall Street, as well as job offers being rescinded.
“The job market and talent scarcity trend that we have seen from the past 12 to 18 months is already turning,” Morgan said.
The trend saw a record level of Americans quitting their jobs in what’s known as the Great Resignation, as well as a record-high in job openings. That translated into confidence among jobseekers and employers doing whatever they could do to attract and retain employees.
Despite increasing fears about a recession, many jobseekers still plan to quit their current positions, a survey from The Conference Board found. Some 31% said they were actively looking for a new job, and another 28% were unsure if they’d leave their company in the next six months.
Only 38% said they’d like to stick with their current employer. The organization polled more than 1,100 U.S. adults, predominantly professional/office workers, from June 21 to 28.
Yet, a separate survey by staffing services company Insight Global found that 78% of employees are worried about losing their jobs if there is a recession. In addition, 87% of managers indicated they would likely lay off employees if there was a recession, according to the survey, which was conducted in June 2022 among more than 1,000 American workers.
“Hiring managers, employees and job seekers alike are all sort of holding our breath, waiting for the bottom to drop out and hoping it doesn’t happen,” said Insight Global CEO Bert Bean.
Here are six steps you can take now to prepare yourself for possible rocky times ahead.
1. Update your resume and network
Even if you aren’t currently looking for work, make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile are up to date; that way, if you are laid off, you can hit the ground running on your job search.
Continue to build your network and perhaps go on some informational interviews, said Toni Frana, career services manager and coach at FlexJobs.
2. Keep up with industry trends
Observe industry trends so you know if the field you are interested in is likely to have layoffs or furloughs, Frana advised.
“Sometimes in a recession, there are industries that continue to grow,” she said. “Look at, ‘Are there other ways I can use my skills? Are they transferable to another industry that might be growing during this time?'”
Health care is one industry struggling to find qualified workers to fill all open jobs.
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In fact, there’s a skills gap in the labor market, which has some industries struggling more than others to fill jobs, said LHH’s Morgan. Tech and health-care jobs are at the top of that list, so if you are thinking of pivoting, see if your skills align, he said.
3. Acquire new skills
Whatever industry you are targeting, investing in your skills is important, Morgan said.
That means taking courses, learning the latest software or other technical skills that can up your game in your industry. Be sure to post all the coursework on LinkedIn and on your resume.
“You have to really be able to coherently tell your prospective employer the upskilling investment you have made in your digital literacy in the past couple of years,” Morgan said.
4. Practice patience
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No matter the condition of the labor market, you should be patient during your job search, Frana said.
“In uncertain economic times, that is even more important because it could be that competition increases … so the hiring process takes longer,” she said.
5. Be ready to act on open jobs
When you find a job you think you might consider, don’t waste any time before applying. Most employers tend to look only at applications that are received in the first week or two, said Julia Pollak, chief economist for career website ZipRecruiter.
“Create a profile, sign up for email alerts, when you get an alert and it matches, apply right away,” she said. “Timing is everything in this market.”
6. Ask about employers’ recession plans
Right now, job seekers are still in the driver’s seat. Don’t be shy about asking a potential employer about any plans to weather a recession and how the company plans to continue growing if one occurs.
Then determine whether you believe them.
“When you have a connection with the person you are interviewing with, you will be able to read it all over them,” said Insight Global’s Bean.
“Don’t be afraid to push and ask again.”
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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.