In an economic downturn it’s vital to maximise your earning potential. Think training & development, networking, and what you could contribute to the bottom line

It is easy to see why employment prospects for the year ahead may seem limited. The world’s financial instability was the talking point of 2008 and this looks set to continue, with thousands of job losses expected in the UK. Maximising your earning potential becomes crucial; whether through training and development, enhancing your business network or by careful planning for every eventuality.

Career planning

In a downturn companies become bottom-line orientated and managers tend to assess workers according to their ability to either make or save money. Make a note of how you’ll sell yourself during a formal review or in your CV or job interview as part of your job search.

If rationalisation is a possibility in your organisation, then establishing your position more firmly is one way to reduce the likelihood you will be made redundant. By taking on additional work, projects or responsibilities, you’ll also be in a stronger position to negotiate a salary increase at the end of any downturn.

Planning for the worst-case scenario can make it easier to cope if you do find yourself trying to secure a new role. It can also help you make the best decisions about your career under worrying circumstances, so make sure that you’re ready to embrace change; moving sectors if necessary to secure work.

Training & development

The most widely accepted method of increasing your value within the building services sector is to become chartered. Chartership is an instantly recognisable reflection of your capabilities as well as your commitment to continuing professional development, and it can significantly increase your career opportunities.

Through its CPD Guide for Members, CIBSE provides a clear framework for professional development, helping you to improve and broaden your knowledge and skills. You should use this as a reference tool to help you keep on track of what you hope to achieve, maintaining a continued focus on your earning potential.

If you’re expecting to move from the static commercial, retail or residential sectors to a potentially more stable sector, such as nuclear, then identifying the skills required and being committed to developing them – perhaps through a professional learning course offered by CIBSE – could increase your value. Similarly, gaining experience within sustainability or energy efficiency disciplines could be beneficial as these areas grow in popularity.

Business networking

Networking is an effective method of increasing your earning potential and its value becomes more evident during a downturn. Take the time to create a networking strategy and keep records of what you have done or plan to do. Word of mouth is a powerful promotional tool and the more people who know about your achievements, the more likely that influential people learn how you could help them.

Whether you work on a permanent or contract basis, you will have formed relationships with a wide range of individuals. Scheduling regular contact with these people – friends, work colleagues, previous employers, ex-classmates, recruitment agencies, etc – will give you access to support, information and job leads. This can be done either in person, by phone or via increasingly popular social or business networking websites, such as LinkedIn, which allow you to build and monitor a high-quality network of professional contacts that can be used business referrals and recommendations.