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8 Tips for Job Applicants in a Recession

Olivia Bibbee

The economy is very dynamic, if we aren’t headed for a downturn we are definitely facing more change and volatility than we have seen in over 15 years.

For many young employees, it’ll be the first time they face any kind of economic slowdown. 

For the last decade-plus, the job market has steadily surged with plenty of job openings in a flourishing economic environment. Employers have been scrambling to hire, allowing applicants to be rather lazy in their job search and application process. 

I’ve been on all sides of the hiring process, as a potential employee, the hiring manager, and the employer. And, early in my career I searched for new opportunities in the middle of a recession. Here are my top ten tips from decades of experience:


1. Stand out from the crowd

Our team at Ten Golden Rules recently posted a job listing for an Account Manager, and from a hiring perspective, most of the applicants we received didn’t do anything to stand out from the crowd. We had over four hundred applicants to sort through. Only four of them went one step further than LinkedIn Auto-Apply and sent me a Direct Message. Only two people did a little research to find my email and send me a personal note. 

If you know you are a great fit for a job, send something creative to the hiring manager to stand out from the crowd. This will instantly put you miles ahead of your competition. 


2. Show up on time

While this may seem like a no-brainer, you’d be surprised by the amount of applicants that show up late to interviews. Especially in the world of Zoom calls, “technical difficulties” has become a phrase every hiring manager rolls their eyes at. 

If you make a bad first impression, you’ve already lost momentum in the eyes of the interviewer. 

If you’re interviewing virtually, spend time beforehand to set up your computer and test your camera and microphone. All of the software such as Zoom and Google meet has a free trial you can use with a friend or family member. Ensure your Zoom software is up-to-date and you have quick access to the interview link.


3. Present yourself professionally 

When you do appear on-screen, make sure you have an appropriate background and dress professionally. First impressions are important, especially in a virtual setting where natural charisma may not be as apparent as your clothing. 

I recommend doing some research to see the environment of the company you’re interviewing with. Check out their social media, website, and LinkedIn posts to see what their employees wear in the office, and replicate that in your interview attire. Remember, it’s always better to overdress! 


4. Invest in your setup 

Since Zoom interviews have become the norm, it’s important to invest time and money into your setup to ensure you’re presenting yourself in the most professional light. You don’t get much of a chance to make a first impression over a webcam, so use the advantages that you do have to your advantage. 

In our Podcast “Video: The Secret Weapon for Law Firms and Professional Services” {{ make this a link at 1:08:26 Emmy Award-winning producer Madeleine Pollack shared the best strategies for lighting, background, camera angle etc. 


5. Research the company 

You may think every applicant does this, but you would be shocked at the number of applicants that can’t even name our services. Having knowledge about the company and its niche will allow you to impress your interviewer, and avoid bombing the interview by asking redundant questions that could easily be answered by a quick trip to the company’s website. 

PRO TIP #1: Almost every senior hiring person is featured in a video or a podcast interview. Spend 15-20 minutes watching this person talk about their business to understand thor approach to business and maybe get a preview of their needs.

PRO TIP #2: Digital information about the company and the employees exists everywhere. Look on Social Media or the company’s website to find information about your interviewer, and see if you can relate to their background, hobbies, or lifestyle. That will leave a great impression and build a great connection!


6. Ask good questions

The best conversationalists are usually just really good listeners. If you want the interviewer to leave with a positive impression, make sure the conversation is 50/50. Don’t just answer the questions you’re asked – ask some yourself, and show a genuine interest in the interviewer’s answer. 


7. Share your worth

Oftentimes, especially in job interviews, you may be tempted to elaborate on why you are not qualified for the role as a way to show that you’re cognisant of the lack of relevant experience the interviewer may notice on your resume. Don’t fall into this trap! 

Rather than telling the interviewer that this job will fulfill your passion or round out your resume, focus on sharing the ways that you could benefit their team and help them meet their goals.


8. Is this a smart move right now?

Before you leave a stable job with a stable company, in a soft economy, think twice before you jump.

If you are out of work, do a bit of research on the company’s financial stability and employee tenure. If the economy continues to suffer, you want to make sure that you’re in an industry and company that is as solid as possible. This is something you can even inquire about directly during your second or third interview. 

Finally, consider the phrase “LIFO” – Last In, First Out. If you’re the last employee hired prior to a significant economic downturn that results in layoffs, chances are, you’re the first employee the company will let go. Consider this when you’re looking to leave your current position, and think long and hard about switching jobs. If it’s not a significant improvement to your pay or hierarchical status, it may not be the best time to make a move! 


The job hunt is full of up’s and down’s, and can be disheartening for those used to a flourishing economic environment. If you’re ready to make a move, these 8 tips can help you ensure that you’re in the best position possible to secure a solid future. 

Looking to make a move into the Digital Marketing industry? Join the TGR Team!