How to Find a Recession-Proof Career
Anyone who has been laid off from a dying industry and has been to a jobs center to look for work knows where the jobs are -- health care, education, government, the defense industry, and green jobs. The problem is figuring out how to transfer your skills to a recession-proof career and land a job.
Career coach and author Jeff Cohen helps the jobless, or working people who are looking for a career change, learn how to transfer their skills to a recession-proof career in his new book, 'The Complete Idiot's Guide to Recession-Proof Careers.' Much of the 330-page book details industries and jobs that are growing, but the best parts are some of the early chapters on how to recession-proof yourself.
Too many people can get complacent on the job and leave their career path up to their bosses and others, instead of being proactive as soon as they start their career and constantly improving their skills so that their job doesn't become obsolete, Cohen told AOL Jobs in a telephone interview.
"Maybe a lot of people don't realize the stake they can take in their career," said Cohen, who worked for 10 years in human resources for American Express.
Not every career can be recession-proofed, he said, but skills can be adapted to new businesses that are growing. New industries emerge during every recession; "green" jobs, for example, are expanding and skills from dying manufacturing jobs can transfer to those jobs, he said.
Workers will often see the usual indicators that an industry is failing, including work being outsourced, major layoffs in previous economic downturns, news stories about the industry being in trouble, the U.S. government investing development dollars in the field, foreign competition eroding market share, and jobs going to lower-paid workers.
The book covers more than 100 recession-proof careers. But it also lists some jobs that are going away. Now's a good time to start looking for new work if you're in any of these outsourced careers: customer service representatives, technical support staff, computer programmers, small goods manufacturers, and data entry. All are jobs where goods can be produced, or people hired, for less overseas.
To take existing job skills and transfer them to recession-proof jobs, the book recommends building on 11 transferable skills that can go from job to job:
- Communication: Reading, writing and speaking are mastered in grade school but can take a lifetime to be an effective communicator.
- Attention to detail: Get the small details right, such as organizational skills and time management.
- Work ethic: Hardworking people with integrity who don't cheat are admired at work.
- Leadership. Know how to motivate people, build a following, and bring out the best in people.
- Thinking abilities: Combine logical reasoning with an ability to think through difficult workplace challenges.
- Human relations: Just like on the playground, work well with others.
- Sales and persuasion: Being able to persuade people to buy your product will always lead to a job in sales.
- Service nature: Good customer service builds repeat business.
- Computer proficiency: Word processing, spreadsheets, presentation design and Internet research skills are in demand in many jobs throughout a career.
- Creativity: Companies fail without new ideas, and being able to think outside the box will keep you employed.
- Self-motivation: Enough said.
To make yourself recession-proof, Cohen recommends starting by befriending someone in your dream job, or better yet, two or three people in great jobs you want. He also recommends learning as many new job skills as you can at work, and rewriting your resume frequently so its updated with the latest key words.
You probably already know the broad categories of recession-proof jobs that are out there, so here are some of the specific recession-proof jobs the book recommends getting into, along with average earnings:
- Surgical technologists: $30,000-$44,000 per year
- Occupational therapists: $50,000-$74,000 per year
- Personal appearance workers, such as manicurists, pedicurists, makeup artists: $8-$14 per hour
- Preschool teachers: $23,000 per year
- Geoscientists: $52,000-$101,000 per year
- Hazardous materials removal workers: $13-$23 per hour
- Paralegals and legal assistants: $34,000-$55,000 per year
- Correctional officers: $28,000-$47,000 per year
- Bill and account collectors: $11-$17 per hour
- Funeral directors: $37,000-$65,000 per year
- Automotive technicians and mechanics: $12-$22 per hour
- Gaming surveillance officers: $22,000-$36,000 per year
- Advertising sales agents: $29,000-$63,000 per year
- Interpreters and translators: $13-$23 per hour
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