3 ways to stay marketable during an economic downturn

Shutterstock_248781739These are tough economic times, with unemployment levels at a record high. It’s an unsettling situation, but there are steps you can take today to future-proof your career. On a recent Go Beyond Disruption podcast, Beth Berk, recruiter for the finance and accounting profession; and Clar Rosso, the Association’s EVP of Engagement, Learning and Innovation; shared three things you can do to stay marketable during an economic downturn.

1. Invest in yourself

We’ve all heard about disruptive technologies and how they’re changing our job requirements. According to the World Economic Forum, these are the top skills you’ll need to perform most jobs in 2022:

  • Analytical thinking and innovation
  • Active learning and learning strategies
  • Creativity, originality and initiative
  • Technology design and programming
  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • Complex problem-solving
  • Leadership and social influence
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Reasoning, problem-solving and ideation
  • Systems analysis and evaluation

This list drives home the fact that as technology reshapes accounting and finance, CPAs will need different skills. Stay ahead of rapid change by taking time to upskill. This is an important part of making yourself valuable to current and future employers.

Almost overnight, COVID-19 accelerated the transformation of many businesses and firms. It will certainly change hiring practices and the type of employees they seek.

For example, organizations that adopted new technologies — like robotic process automation — are better equipped to minimize disruption from the virus. As businesses emerge from pandemic mode, they’re going to focus on how to minimize future disruptions. Employees who can understand, implement, use and train other staff on new technologies will be in demand.

Data analysis skills are also becoming critical. Using insights gleaned from data to pinpoint where a company is today — and where they need to go tomorrow — will make you invaluable to organizations trying to navigate their way through the pandemic and beyond. As Rosso stated, “There is a huge performance gap between what CEOs of organizations expect, want and feel their organizations need to do around data and what’s actually happening.”

ENGAGE2020, our largest event for the accounting and finance profession, offers many opportunities to pick up new technology skills, hear the latest guidance around COVID-19 and more. ENGAGE is an all-virtual format this year, designed in three distinct parts. The ENGAGE kick-off event offers complimentary CPE to all in June. The main event in July offers additional CPE opportunities.

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2. Market yourself within your current organization

“For those waiting to get recognized or promoted, now is not the time to be humble or shy,” Berk said. When she asks people seeking her help if they’ve looked for a new position internally, most say no.

“Networking or getting to work with people in other departments comes in handy,” Berk said. “You get to know other people and demonstrate your value to a different group. Sometimes a move to another department or team is a win-win for the company.”

How do you set yourself up for a career move inside your own organization?  Here are some tips:

  • Raise your hand and ask to take the lead on a project or stretch assignment that’s outside your day-to-day role.
  • Offer to train staff in an area where you’re an expert.
  • Suggest ways to improve workflows and processes.
  • Create a task force or committee to address internal issues.
  • Share your ideas and volunteer to implement them.

According to Berk, you shouldn’t overlook incorporating your personal interests, hobbies or volunteer activities when thinking about how to help at work. “Sometimes bringing that part of yourself to an organization helps you get noticed and get that promotion because someone saw a different side of you that they didn’t get to see on the job,” she said.


3. Promote yourself effectively

If you’re unemployed or seeking a new career opportunity, a few simple tips will help you shine:

  • List your specific software skills on your resume. Berk observed that employers look for those skills, yet candidates often forget to list them.
  • Since recruiters often find candidates via LinkedIn, make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and aligns with your resume.
  • Display digital badges you’ve earned. Note credentials, designations and certifications.
  • Read the job postings you’re interested in pursuing. Incorporate keywords in your resume (if applicable to your experience) for better SEO when employers’ applicant tracking systems (ATS) scan your resume. Check out the Association’s Global Career Hub to see job listings and more tips for your job search.

Here’s one final piece of advice from Rosso to help you market yourself: “Find your sweet spot. Do what you love, what you’re good at and what drives value in the marketplace.”

While the current market downturn is hard, if you follow these three tips you will be prepared to take your career in the direction you choose. Hear more of the conversation in Go Beyond Disruption podcast.

Association Staff