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How to Recession Proof Your Career

January 29, 2020 11:59 IST

'See to it that you have adequate skills that will make you so indispensable that they cannot fire you.'
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/

'In the IT industry layoffs are a part of life'

"You have to constantly keep checking -- Is your skill relevant?," Srinivas Alamilli, senior engineering manager at one of the world's largest software companies, tells Divya Nair/


As someone who has hired and fired several employees in my career, I can safely say that layoffs are part of life.

If you are working in the IT industry, you must remember that this is not like a bank or government job.

You may be doing perfectly well in your role today, but tomorrow if your company decides to move on to pursue something else, a certain department will be rendered irrelevant.

And you are not to be blamed entirely. But you have to be ready to see the signs. Keep your eyes and ears open. Because no company will shut down overnight or lay off people without any notice.

The amazing thing is you will hear (the signs) from your own company.

People will casually mention or bring it up during sales meetings or office chatter that the company is not doing as well as it was. That some new development is taking place that will affect your nature of work. There may be external factors too.

So, you need to recession-proof yourselves.

In the IT industry, layoffs happen more, because technology is an ever-evolving sector.

The programming language and technology changes almost every year, so you need to be prepared.

If you are working in the banking sector, you won't see so many changes happening. A revolution may happen there maybe once in ten or twenty years.

Always ask: What is the market value of the company you are working for?

Are there any indications of the company's downfall?

Do you have/lack the skills the organisation needs right now?

In technology, you need to be constantly abreast about what is the latest and what matters.

There are so many new technologies and software right now and some of them keep changing.

People like me who started with UNIX will tell you that 20 years later also UNIX will still be relevant, because cloud management is basically system administration, UNIX.

So the skill is relevant even today.

You have to constantly keep checking -- Is your skill relevant?

Is your company making money?

How is the advertising revenue -- is it growing or falling?

Have the sales gone up or down?

If you are the development team, find out if your company is losing customers.

You should also be looking at the sales figures.

If you are in the IT industry, ask yourself: Is the technology you are working on, losing its sheen?

Is it going to be around for some time?

In the organisation I work for, we offer learning internally; we encourage employees to go and study at the IIM and IITs.

I hire them as BTech graduates and support them for their masters' programme. If your company has these facilities, use those opportunities to upgrade your skills.

In the software industry, more than degrees and academic qualifications, what really matters is skills.

If you are serious about your career and want to grow internally, you can get certified from a reputed agency on cloud management, data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning.

Remember, you will only get certified if you have real skills.

There are many fly-by-night operators in every city that will charge you money and give you a certificate. But that won't help you face a real interview.

Whenever possible, spend your money and time to learn and acquire a new skill.

If you have lost your job and haven't found a new one yet, I'd say, don't lose hope.

The software industry is still the largest growing industry in the world.

India has established itself as the leading provider of software services in the world.

So, if not in your current city, maybe some company in another city or country in the world may still want to hire you.

But you should also be aware of the reality you are in.

Currently, there are two types of people who are out there in the job scene right now.

There are people like me who have spent, like, 20 years in the IT industry and have good work experience in a certain department or field of work.

For us, it will be difficult to find a job that will replace the current one. Most of the time, companies may not be able to justify why they should pay so much money to hire someone like me.

At the same time, there are youngsters who have just graduated, started their careers or have 5 to 8 years of experience -- these people can easily switch over and find a new job.

My advice is: Don't be stuck. You must have the skills that commensurate with your salary.

If you have been working in an organisation for too long, see to it that you have adequate skills that will make you so indispensable that they cannot fire you.