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Events and actions which can create risks – and opportunities –for your job

Trends in the economy and industry as well as your job performance and engagement with colleagues, present both opportunities as well as risks to your job.

Understand the likely impact of macro trends as well as from your own actions at work. These will help you mitigate risks and identify opportunities for professional advancement.

Macro trends – keep an eye on them

Economic, political, and industry trends can impact your employment.


Recessions, as we experienced in 2008 – 2009, tend to trigger layoffs across industries as costs are aligned with the slowdown in business. Sectors which have been overinvested in or reaching the late stages of their lifecycle (housing, retail and retail banking in the last recession) get compressed and jobs here are impacted the most.

Recessions tend to be followed by periods of economic expansions and significant job creation – as we are experiencing in the USA over the last decade. Sectors with greater contemporary relevance (e-commerce, logistics, social communications, & cloud), lead the post-recession job growth.

While a recession is painful if your job is impacted, it is also an opportunity to repurpose yourself to alternative jobs and more future proof careers in industries which are growing (cloud, logistics) or better aligned to demographic trends (healthcare & home care).


Legislative actions impact employment, both positively & adversely.

Introduced in 2010 to regulate the banking sector, the Dodd Frank Act negatively impacted jobs in trading across asset classes. On the flip side, it led to a surge in jobs employed in identification, reporting, and management of process compliance and risk management.

In the same year, the Affordable Care Act led to enhanced enrollment in health plans and job opportunities with the health insurance companies. More recently though, the aggressive posture on public healthcare being advocated by some presidential candidates must be giving health insurers a reason to be cautious about their investment plans and job additions.


Wars (physical or trade) create strife and uncertainty which negatively impact investments & employment in the affected regions.

The shrinking investments in the region during the Iraq war are a recent example. Similarly, the trade war between the USA and China is denting the fortunes, investment, and hiring plans of US & Chinese companies which are dependent on the other country’s market or supply chain

On the flip side, wars also create opportunities.

Like all wars, the war in the Middle East was a boost to defense companies and contractors, and jobs with them.

The US - China trade war has created opportunities for companies outside China (including those in the USA) to get access to the US markets and for those outside the USA to get access to the Chinese market

Industry trends

The rapid growth in e-commerce led to retail store closures across the USA, and the shrinkage in jobs employed by them

It also triggered a boom in investments and hiring in the logistics and distribution sectors. A study published by the Wall Street Journal cited that the total number of warehousing jobs created in the last decade has exceeded the job losses in retail stores.

Outsourcing and automation

For activities which are performed by multiple companies in a similar manner (e.g. payroll, accounting, infrastructure monitoring), third party provides like ADP or TCS will build scale and processes to deliver these same activities across companies at competitive levels of quality and efficiency.

If you are employed in these job functions, your job is at risk of getting outsourced. It is also an opportunity to find employment with the outsourcers, and potentially build an even better career in your field of work. If your job is a candidate for consolidation, work for the consolidator

Similarly, if your work is repetitive in nature, be aware of the risk of automation.

This is also an opportunity to reskill into emerging and less structured work – giving yourself a new set of skills and more longevity to your career.

You might want to also read – Are Outsourcing/automation a risk to your job

Actions which we need to actively manage

Just as events outside our realm of influence create opportunities and risks to our jobs, so do our own actions and behavior in the workplace

Job Performance

Delivering on the goals and objectives set for a job is essential. Doing well on them is likely to get you recognized as a performer and open avenues for career advancement.

Falling short creates a risk to continuing employment.

It is also an opportunity to reflect on how to raise the bar and perform better on assigned goals. Also, whether your current job is best aligned with your skills and interests. And if not, how to repurpose yourself into a role where you would see yourself performing better.

Cultural alignment

Every organization has a work culture. In some organizations, being seen as putting in long hours is the norm. In others, the hours you put in are less important as the results which you deliver.

Alignment with the culture makes you one of the team, and can open up opportunities. A lack of cultural alignment, on the other hand, poses a risk of being seen as an outsider, less likely to be considered for important assignments.

Relationships with colleagues

Collaboration, and good working relationships with colleagues, and with your immediate supervisor, can facilitate job success and advancement. (Check out – What are your professional assets).

All things being equal (and sometimes even being unequal), the person the group wants around will most likely be the one who stays on the job, gets the better opportunities, and succeeds.

And if the relationships are not working out – take it as an opportunity to explore newer pastures

In closing

Jobs and careers are often affected by macro events which are outside our realm of influence.

They are also impacted by how we engage in our work environment and perform in the job.

Being aware of trends in the economy and industry help identify potential risks to your current job and to opportunities for new employment

Similarly, if you are aligned with the culture of your group and performing well on the G&O’s, there are opportunities for job growth within. If not, then it’s the time to investigate opportunities outside and move to a job better aligned with your skills and work preferences

Keep swinging!

This note is also posted on LinkedIn -


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