Job hunting can be a difficult process. If you have recently been fired or laid off, then you may still be trying to sort everything out. It's only natural to feel downhearted. With the recent downturn in the economy, we have all had to face hardship in one form or another. Like it or not, you are probably confronted with a crossroads in your life and may not be sure of which road to take or if there even is a future road.
The good news is that there is a future road and you've just stumbled upon the best road map to help you find your way. You also still have a job. It's a new job and one that you may not be accustomed to, but the payoff can be phenomenal. The task is your job search and the payoff will be your new job.
The companies we're about to list are the best of both worlds: if the economy is good, you can take your paycheck and share in the wealth through the stock market; if the economy is bad, well at least you still have a paycheck!
Food and Beverage
Proctor and Gamble, Frito-Lay, Kraft, Nestle, Post General Mills, Kellogg, Coke, etc. Sure, there are generics on the market, but people tend to make their most irrational economic decisions on small purchases- like paying 70% more for Hershey's brand cocoa that was packaged with the same commodity cocoa as the generic stuff. Not only that, these companies have managed to achieve a markup so astronomically high relative to raw material costs (the packaging of Corn Flakes is more expensive than the product!) that they can easily absorb increased price elasticity- it might not be good for their profit growth or stock price, but they won't go bankrupt either.
Beer and Cigarettes
If you have an ethical problem with these companies, we completely respect that. Even so, these are probably the best industries for surviving a depression, not to speak of a recession. People buy alcohol and nicotine in any economy, and these companies show an unmatched record for consistent growth- meaning opportunities for not only continued employment but also genuine promotions and professional development. Companies like: Phillip Morris, RJ Reynolds, Anheuser-Busch, Coors, Miller, etc.
Low Priced Consumable Essentials
Ditto the same explanation as food and beverage- high margins, generics are not significant because of low price, and people have to buy them- stuff like toothpaste, razors, air filters, moisturizer, etc. Companies like Proctor and Gamble, Johnson and Johnson, Gillette, etc. The nice thing about working for a good "brand" is that the brand and products will likely survive a bankruptcy as long as the business model is still valid, of course under different ownership. An even better idea might be working for a manufacturer of generic rip-offs of brand name products- that's probably a growth industry, though not enough to bring the brands down entirely.
The Most Vulnerable Industries in a Downturn
Airlines and transportation- in a slow economy, fewer goods are sold, business activity stalls or declines, and those who operate on the edge of growth and economic activity are exceptionally vulnerable. Most business travel can be postponed or done with increasingly sophisticated technology that makes travel somewhat obsolete. This makes the bread-and-butter of the airlines a very risky bet. The "premium" airlines that rely on juicy business rates are the riskiest- American Airlines, Delta, etc. Smaller economy airlines such as Southwest and Air Tran are better bets.
Manufacturers and marketers of durable goods- a "durable good" is any purchase that can be postponed for a time during a budget crunch. Think about it- if you've just been laid off, buying a car or new refrigerator is not your first priority. Also, as bankruptcies increase, the amount of "good credit" will decline, meaning that large purchases that are often financed will be delayed until the purchaser has enough cash. Be prepared if your job depends on the success of a GM, Ford, Sears, Home Depot, or Pottery Barn. Engineer Jobs
Retailers in general- excluding the deep discount chains like Wal-mart who will be the first to squeeze suppliers and cut costs in a bad economy, most retailers will suffer tremendously. Malls in particular have a glut of capacity, as this premium retail space has expanded at 3 times the rate of population growth for over 10 years straight! This is a warning for those needing Dillard's, Macy's, Restoration Hardware, or any mid-to-high end retailer to stay in business for them to keep their job.
Construction Industry- any company conducting business in, or providing supplies to, the construction industry and or supporting the continued growth of production capacity. If households delay buying a $20,000 car in a recession, what do you think they will do regarding a $300,000 mansion? Even more critically, what about companies considering a multi-million dollar new facility? Construction industries operate on the very margin of increased growth and capacity, and even the mildest recessions can send real estate and building material prices down the gutter. If commodity prices fail to fall as fast as demand for construction (all indications are that commodities will continue to fall, albeit at a slower pace since they have fallen so far already in the 90's), then suppliers of construction materials will be "squeezed" into bankruptcy within months. Beware of dependence on companies like Owens Corning, Lowe's, Centex, lumber companies, Square D, and firms with highly leveraged investments in real estate. Construction Jobs
Outgrowths of the Economic EnvironmentOne important thing to remember in your job search in this industry is that, in a bankruptcy, the lawyers get paid first, and then the creditors, then finally the shareholders- the employees, of course, get nothing. However, before there can be a bankruptcy, there has to be a collections agent and a team of bankruptcy attorneys. This could be a HUGE growth industry, as the supply of specialists in collections (especially collections from white-collar debtors, not just deadbeats who missed a weekly payment on their TV) and bankruptcy specialists is far less than the possible demand. If you have the resources, go to law school and become a bankruptcy lawyer. Or, go to work for a collections agency at minimum wage until you learn the ropes, and then start your own practice. This may be THE self-employment opportunity of the decade.
Health CareThe largest American generation in history, the Baby Boomers, ticks toward retirement every day. An older population means more medical care, more surgery, and more prescription drugs. Find a job in this field, and you will literally be set for life with job security. The possibilities are wide open- go to work for a manufacturer, work for a hospital, a nursing home, anything that will possibly increase in demand with an aging population. People will give their bottom dollar for their health, so this industry is as recession-proof as it gets.
We highly recommend that you give primary consideration to any job offer from the safe or growth industries. Such an offer is worth at LEAST 20% less salary than an offer in a risky business. The key to surviving an economic downturn is to maintain employment and keep developing yourself so you can fetch top dollar when things turn up- even during the Great Depression, 70% of the workforce was employed; make sure you're in that 70%.
Last Updated: 08/20/2013