{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: Preparing Your Career For An Economic Downturn

In this episode, Katie and Chris discuss preparing your career for an economic downturn with advice appropriate for the present day and yet-to-be-seen scenarios. From skills and certifications to building a personal brand to how to pitch people, get practical advice for making it through a financial crisis, global recession, or other unforeseen circumstances.


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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.

Christopher Penn 0:01
In this week’s in ear insights, we are talking about preparing your career for economic changes, what are the things you should be doing to protect yourself to be ready for an economic downturn of some kind, we know that historically, for the last really about 10 to 12 years, we’ve been in what’s called a bull market, a boom market and with recent events and things that has turned around, we know that bear markets, at least the last few that we’ve had, can last anywhere from two to three years for the formal, like heavy, hard hitting stuff, and then added up to seven, eight years for all economic indicators to return. We’re looking at this data this past weekend and saw that some things like median household income took seven years after the Great Recession to get back to where they were. And so today we want to focus on what are the things that you should be doing with your job, your LinkedIn profile, you’re everything, to put yourself in his best position. So Katie, this is great. Clearly strategic planning at a personal level, where do we start?

Katie Robbert 1:08
Well, you know, it’s interesting as we’re talking about it, it’s making me realize that it’s very similar to the conversation we have about future proofing your career, for the inevitable, you know, bought invasion, which isn’t really a thing. But basically, how do you keep yourself relevant when AI is going to take more of the jobs. And so it’s a very similar conversation. And so it’s really, at the end of the day, all about just making sure that you are scaled up, and that all of your documentation is up to date, and that you have a good sense of what’s going on in the market so that you can be adaptable and agile and really fill the gaps and so, you know, where do you start? Well, first, I mean, first things first, you take stock of yourself. So you do your own audit of yourself and say what do I do? No, What don’t I know. And so having own awareness, almost like your own personal SWOT analysis, up, here are my strengths. Here are my weaknesses. Here my opportunities, and here are the threats. And so understanding those four pieces around yourself of you know, when was the last time, you know, I read a new blog, and when was the last time I got a new certification or even when was the last time I even did something outside of the lane of what my job description is? So that I’m pushing myself to learn a little bit of something new. So that’s where I would start, where would you start, Chris?

Christopher Penn 2:38
I think you’re exactly right, the skills and certifications if you have had certifications in the past and you let them lapse, now would be a great time to get those back in order. When it comes to the documentation, I think open updating your LinkedIn profile and making sure it is relevant refresh is important but also the part that people forget and you need to do this Today is refresh and revitalize your personal network. You know who Mitchell was a good friend of ours has a really great saying it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you. Which means that when a job opening comes up when a need arises in a company, are you on the mind of the hiring manager or people that they know when they go to their person and say, Hey, I’m looking for somebody who’s good at analytics, who do you Who do you guys know, you need to be top of mind in that list for whatever it is that your specialty is. And if you’re not, then you have to go through the traditional route of hiring, which is much more of a much more of an industrial process where you know, HR go to HR and they scan your resume for keywords and all this stuff that frankly, is no fun. It’s much easier and better, like anyone will tell you in sales to be requested to be asked for and so that you challenge with networking is not something you can stand up overnight. It’s something you invest in over the long term. If you have let your networking skills get rusty, if you’ve let your network kind of get a little out of touch, now’s a great time to reach out to people without expectation without asking for anything, just say, Hey, how’s it going, you know, what’s, what’s happening in your world? Or just get get to know the people that you know? A little bit better?

Katie Robbert 4:29
So how do you become top of mind for people? So you gave an, you know, a really specific example of analytics. I know that, you know, for Trust Insights, we get a lot of referral business because you know, your particular skill set Chris is top of mind for people. So how does someone demonstrate their skill set in an appropriate manner on LinkedIn, for example, so without like, spamming people and saying, Look what I did before I did. How do you become top of mind for people?

Christopher Penn 5:05
There’s a couple of different ways you can do that. Staying Top of Mind means regular frequent communications, even if you are, you know, Junior in your career, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from starting up an account on like MailChimp or something at starting a newsletter of the things that you find interesting, and sharing with your point of view. Not to harp too much on about it, but relatively recently, I’ve been doing updates on the whole pandemic situation for a couple of months now. And I just started a newsletter for it just because I wanted to get away from Facebook’s algorithm possible. And I said, Hey, here’s the thing. And I said, I hope this goes away soon. This is not gonna be an ongoing thing. I hope I have no need to do newsletter for a while. But it was just curated content of stuff that I’ve read and think is relevant and looks at my specific point of view. And it now has close to 200 subscribers with absolutely no No promotion whatsoever because it’s topical. It’s relevant and it’s in a format people are comfortable in. Even though I have 0000 subject matter expertise, I am a marketer. I have the closest I got to medical school was being pre med in college and I dropped out of that two years in because I almost failed organic chemistry. But just being a provider of valuable information with a specific point of view, and letting people subscribe to it, letting people get know get to know you through that. Other examples, the things we all do in b2b sales. Remember, job seeking is a b2b sales job. It’s it functions exactly like and if you’ve never done sales, that’s actually a good time to learn. What do you have for in a sales pitch? Right? What do you have you have supporting materials, here’s a case study. Here’s a testimonial. Here’s all these things that you give in a sales pitch. You do the same thing in job seeking you should be so if you don’t have the ability to share work you’ve done at work. Stand up a good Google Analytics count for a local nonprofit and then be able to show here’s the work that I did. Here’s the things that I tried. Again, like you were saying, Katie, those certifications are so important. Here’s the, you know, the equivalent of a diploma that shows that I have a minimum level of competence in something. What about you? What do you what are some things you see people doing that they could be doing better?

Katie Robbert 7:22
You know, I think a lot of people feel like they need to have a personal website, which is a good idea. But not everyone has the time, energy or skills to put one together. And depending on the role you’re going for, it may not be a necessary skill. So I would say definitely use LinkedIn as sort of your standard in website because you can post original content, you can write LinkedIn posts, and so use LinkedIn as your professional blog. So Chris, to your point about case studies, testimonials, if you’re not sure where to house those things, LinkedIn is a really great place to do that. And it sort of becomes your proxy, personal website. And so I think that doing that, one thing that you know, I’ve definitely been guilty of but you should consider is make sure that your profile picture is recent enough so that if you do show up on an interview, someone doesn’t have to do a double take and figure out if you’re the same person. Like we all love the pictures of ourselves when we’re younger and looked a lot more well rested and polished, you know, versus how we look today. However, the problem you know, you definitely get a double take from the hiring manager of what else aren’t they being truthful about? You know, job seeking is a lot like dating, you know, first impressions matter. You know, once you’ve made that first impression, if, for good or bad, it’s really hard to recover from it. If it doesn’t go well, even if you are exactly the right person. So It’s a lot of pressure. But there are ways to take that pressure off. And, Chris, to your point, letting your work lead takes a lot of the pressure off that job seeking because people already know that you’re capable people already know what you can do. You know, I think that other things, you know, to your point about networking, a big thing that is happening right now and has been happening for a while on LinkedIn is that people are connecting with a hard sales pitch, they immediately want to pitch you on something and so I have a bunch of requests that I’ve ignored or deleted or blocked because, hey, it looks like you put the word you know, data in your profile. Let me sell you something that is the absolute worst thing that you can do. And it will turn off your network immediately by hard pitching. So Chris, to your point, you know, connect with people without expectation and let them know like even say because a lot of times these connections are sneaky. They’ll do the hard pitch immediately after you connect. So just be upfront me, I’m not trying to sell you anything. I literally just want to connect with you because we have similar interests or we know similar people I want to get to know you. You know, and LinkedIn is a great place to do it. Are there places outside of LinkedIn, Chris, that right now people can do some virtual networking.

Christopher Penn 10:23
As much as it pains me to say it. Facebook has become sort of a community hub during the crisis for a lot of people who are holding you. They call them zoom rooms, you know, coffee shops, coffee hours, open, open office hours, things people just say, looking to drop in. The silver lining a lot of stuff is that there are people who are opening up, you know, a chat room or whatever, or a video conference room just to talk just to have someone to talk to, and it’s an opportunity for you to carefully politely non salesy way to connect with people. You might not otherwise have an opportunity to really fun example of this. And one of my favorite musicians was on Instagram this past week and say like I’m bored so I’m just gonna do a concert from my house just me and my acoustic guitar and open up you know the chat and Instagram Live it was just having conversation with people in normal circumstances that would not have been possible right? You would have paid hundreds of dollars to see this same person in concert you know, in a big hall and stuff like that and never gotten to even have the remote possibility of interacting with this person. The same is happening in the business sphere people are opening up you know, conferences those Hey, just drop in let’s let’s have coffee kind of thing. And especially if you were more junior in your career, it’s a chance to get to know the influencers in your space, and to become known to have relevant things to say when appropriate. To your point, Katie, it really is a lot like dating. Like there’s some things you just would not do. You first he was like, hey, let me tell you all about how awesome I am like no, that’s that’s not how that works. Or at least not for most people. But just being a decent human being and helping somebody else addresses their need. And that is the crux of both networking. Really what your LinkedIn profile needs to say. And what you do in these networking events is, forget about you. What does the other person want? I used to have a sales manager who said the radio and a customer’s has permanently tuned to wi I FM what’s in it for me. So if somebody is on one of these, you know, coffee hour chats, they’re not interested in talking about your career, they are interested in you absolving them of some of the loneliness they feel when a hiring managers is interviewing you. They’re not interested in you. They’re interested in what you can do for them to make them look better. And so we have to, as we go into these situations go okay. What is it that they need help with? I remember, at our past work, we’ve had these terrible, terrible sales pitches, we go into the 104 A slide deck, like it tells us because our picture of our building and all the logos of the brands, we’ve worked with any other like, Oh my god, somebody shoot me. And the way we handle things at Trust Insights is the exact opposite. We go. So what’s the problem you need help with? Let’s talk about you, the customer, not us, the company and the same thing is true in your job interviewing.

Katie Robbert 13:22
You know, in thinking about what can I do for you? So I think one of the things that people don’t necessarily do enough or they don’t do in the right ways, is share other people’s content. You know, and that’s another way to sort of stay top of mind for people is, oh, well, Chris always shares the work that I do. Let me see what’s going on with him. But you need to do it in a thoughtful way. Don’t just share for the sake of sharing. Share other people’s content because it resonates with you. Share it because you learn something Something shared because you found it interesting and you want other people that you are connected with to also read this interesting thing and don’t just share it, but add your own commentary. Like, you know, I shared this content from Chris, he makes a really good point in the third paragraph about XYZ and so showing that you’ve also read the information is equally as important as sharing because a lot of times, you know, we’ll share something just based on the title of an article. But as we know, there’s a lot of clickbait titles and misleading there SEO optimized, but it really has nothing to do with the article itself. But I think that in addition to connecting with people writing your own content, and demonstrating your skills, sharing other people’s boosting them up, what can you do for me, is going to help you in this time because we’re all banded together to help boost each other up. And, like if Chris writes a really great article about something that I find interesting. I want to share it with people so that they can also see it. And I think that that’s like a really another. That’s another really good, easy way to connect with people is by just appreciating the work that they do.

Christopher Penn 15:15
Our advisor Gini Dietrich had a fantastic rule. years ago that still holds true today is the 1010 rule. Share 10 pieces of content from a person over the span of 10 days before you ever reach out to pitch them. It was advice for PR professionals before you ever pitch a reporter share 10 pieces of their of their posts, tagging them over the span of 10 days, they get used to hearing your name, but they’re you are clearly doing work for them unasked before you ever ask anything of them. And I think that’s a great rule today. Like if you are job hunting, and there’s a particular company that you are interested in, follow that 1010 rule for that company. So that is a chance that somebody perhaps the person you’re going to be interviewing with has seen you acting on behalf of the company’s interests beforehand. Exactly.

Katie Robbert 16:06
You know, is there anything else? So we’ve talked about certifications, we’ve talked about skills. We’ve talked about networking. We’ve talked about the what can you do for me, mentality, other any other things that people should be doing right now to be future proofing their profile, their resume their career.

Christopher Penn 16:28
The thing that I would advocate most is be very financially conservative right now. So if there’s purchases that you have lined up that you can defer, if there are expenses that you can reduce that just frivolous like yeah, I never actually used that streaming service. Now it’d be the time to do that. Get your own financial house in order because what that what happens with and I used to be a recruiter, I was a terrible recruiter. So take that with a grain take this with a grain of salt is it’s like dating like you’re saying the more desperate you are The worse you perform and things like job interviews and stuff like that, if you are in a solid position where you can, the balance of power is even the company needs you as much as you need them. You’re in a much better, you’re able to negotiate and much more sensibly. So make sure that from a personal finance perspective, you are as on solid ground so that if the offer doesn’t come through, if the you know, if the interview doesn’t go, well, you’re not absolutely crushed. You have backup plans, as it were, we were joking this morning, oh, we have plans A through Z. So we don’t have to get to plan z, but it’s there if you need it. And so think about that, from your own perspective. What if you don’t find a position for six months? Are you able to stretch the resources you have to get to that point? What could you be doing? As Plan B in case Plan A takes six months to find a new gig.

Katie Robbert 17:50
Well, and I think that that’s a really important point. So when we started this conversation, you said that it’s strategic planning for yourself. So I think playing out all of those different scenarios of what if I get a job right away? What if it takes six months? What if all I can find is temporary contract work? What if it’s tough to hire? What you know, think about all of those different potential scenarios? Or what if I decide to go back to school? What if, you know, I get a job and they immediately layoff and I’m right back where I started. So having all of those plans outlined a to z will actually take a lot of the anxiety out of it, because then you’re prepared for any given scenario. There’s no way that you can think through all of the possible scenarios because you’re always going to get a curveball. But having an understanding of the different things that might happen, will help you think through and you may discover that what you initially thought you wanted isn’t really what you want, because in my experience, at least when it comes to job searching and my career it’s never turned out The way that I thought it was going to and quite honestly, but that’s a good in a good way. It’s, I’ve always been surprised and things have always just kind of like, like, hey, do you want to try this thing over here? And I think the big thing, especially when you’re trying to figure out your career, is to just say yes to things. Say yes to things that are a little bit outside of your comfort zone, say yes to things that you know, are a little bit outside of your lane of skills, and say yes to things that you may not even be sure if they relate to your career, but you may find a new passion or a new skill set, you know, and start to look at the things that you are passionate about. And is there a career in that space?

Christopher Penn 19:42
Yep. So get your house in order. Get your documentation up to date, refresh your skill sets, go network with people without expectation and be known for something those would be the conditions that you absolutely need to get your house in order about right now. While the getting is still Good. If you have follow up questions about this or you want to talk about it, come on over to our slack community, go to Trust slash analytics for marketers, and bring your questions with you. We’re happy to answer them and with over 900 other professionals who may be able to give you insights and hey, might even network with you. Also, if you if you have questions about this episode, in particular, feel free to go over to the Trust Insights website at Trust and find the blog post that goes with this show. We’ll talk to you soon. Thanks for listening and keep yourself safe.

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