IT Jobs and the Kansas City Recession of 2008

During recent status meetings with software development teams in Kansas City at various organizations, the conversation has ultimately been shifting to the economy.  It seems most everyone is concerned about their employer’s health and by extension their jobs.Whether or not we are in a recession is an argument for economists and politicians and here in Kansas City it sure feels like we’re in one but one thing is for certain, if we aren’t in one now, it’s statistically inevitable that we will be just as we have a number of times during the past 50+ years. Here are the numbers. The average length of a recession over the past five decades in the U.S. has been 11 months, while the average length of an expansion has been six years. On average it takes four months to find a job in the U.S. 

Of course, your mileage may vary but first, if it takes an average of four months to find work, make sure you have 3-6 months worth of living expenses saved in an emergency (low/no risk) fund. Most financial gurus will suggest this. Second, if multiple recessions will likely occur during your career, anticipate them by doing (constantly) those things that enable you to hit the ground running if you’re looking for a job. Always keep your resume updated (a “living” resume) with your skills and achievements as they occur rather than testing your memory years after they occur when you’re dusting off your resume for a job search. Keep your skills current. Don’t wait for your employer to send you to training or give you a spot on a choice project. Learn on your own and/or donate your time to organizations needing help with what you do.

And finally: network, network and network some more. Got it? Don’t wait until you’re looking. Do it as a common practice. Go to lunch, breakfast, dinner or coffee with people. Join organizations relevant (or not) to your field and take an active role with at least one at any given time. Open your mouth and let people know what you do. You would be surprised who your neighbors and acquaintances might know that could help you find a job when/if the time comes.

In short, do the things that you have control over. You probably won’t be in a position to influence company policy relating to adjustments in the work force, but you have complete control over how successful you’ll be landing your next spot.