It was a bittersweet day for Carol when her company laid off 25% of its staff – and then gave her a promotion. Her parade was poured on as she watched talented employees get escorted out the door, but she knew she deserved her victory.

Carol spent the previous two years carefully positioning herself within her company, making sure leadership knew her value to the long-term success of the company. When layoffs were imminent, Carol knew she was rock solid.

How did she recession-proof her career?

Step 1: Plan. Carol first considered the direction she wanted her career to take and what she would enjoy most. She took note of the skills and experiences needed to get into those positions. Then she created a plan. In truth, she had to jump through many hoops to achieve her promotion. Her plan had to be malleable, but she remained focused and got there.

Step 2: Generosity. “You can have anything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want,” says Zig Ziglar. Carol has helped a number of people get a job and advance within her company (forwarding résumés to hiring managers, helping new hires get acclimated, etc.). She is always looking for ways to help colleagues achieve their goals and actively supports her community outside of work.

Step 3: Communication. Though difficult for Carol at first, she learned to share her goals and successes with others. In fact, if she had not shared her leadership aspirations with her boss and a few other trusted (and respected) colleagues, she wouldn’t have gotten her promotion. They simply thought she wanted to stay in the same role. If you don’t communicate, you lose out!

Step 4: Build/Nurture Relationships. Most people wait until they have either lost or are about to lose their jobs to start building and nurturing key relationships. Regardless of where you are in your career, now is the best time to begin (or continue) building relationships. Carol created a Facebook account, increased the frequency of lunch dates with colleagues and started going to networking functions within the community – knowing that these relationships will help her and her friends for a long time to come. She now schedules at least two hours a week for networking!

Step 5: Mentor. Carol knows the more she mentors, the more successful she will be. When others look to her for advice, she becomes more valuable to her company.

Unless forced, most people do what’s absolutely essential to get by. A recession is the perfect opportunity to remember what matters most – going the extra mile and building relationships. If you want to ensure your career will survive this downturn, take a lesson from Carol!

Rock on!

Misti Burmeister