Recession-proofing your career: 6 signs of an indispensable healthy contributor

November 8, 2022

By Tory Campbell, ’00
Senior Associate Executive Director, Experience 
OSU Alumni Association 

There is no foolproof way to avoid the sting of losing a job during a recession; some things are out of your control. But whether in a season of jobs aplenty or a cyclical recession, you can improve your job security by focusing on six characteristics that make you an indispensable healthy contributor to any team. 

First, let’s unpack both elements of “healthy contributor” to understand their significance and why they can provide you with increased job security when combined. By “healthy,” we mean how you impact team cohesion and energy with your self-awareness, high commitment and openness to accountability. With “contributor,” we focus on how you impact the team’s quality of work and outcomes by what you bring in terms of honed superpowers, work ethic and innovation acumen.   

You can be one without the other, and I’m sure we all have worked with people who have been great contributors but left a wake of dysfunction within a team with their lack of self-awareness. Or you’ve worked with a very caring person you enjoy being around but who didn’t pull their weight when it came to getting the work done. It’s only when you combine these two ways of working and being that you become a force to be reckoned with, a beloved teammate and an increasingly indispensable part of the company’s future.  

All these enriching qualities that go into being a healthy contributor can move you from “nice to have” to a “must-keep” in any job market downturn. So, take a few minutes today and consider if and how you embody these indicators of being an essential healthy contributor. 

  • Self-awareness – A conscious knowledge of one's own character, feelings, motives, and desires and their impact on others.  

  • High commitment – Being dedicated in a way that assumes increased personal ownership of the outcomes.  

  • Openness to accountability – Open to taking responsibility for one’s actions concerning others.   

  • Honed superpowers – A unique skill or talent that, when offered on a project, exponentially improves the quality and effectiveness of the final product.  

  • Work ethic – The principle that hard work is intrinsically virtuous and a key driver to succeeding in accomplishing goals.   

  • Innovation acumen – An awareness and sharp judgment on how to make things dramatically better and a willingness to do them. 

Now that you’ve taken stock of these qualities within yourself, build strength in these areas to enhance your merit within your company. 

Sneak peek: Stay tuned for next month’s career feature about how to take stock of and document your year — a useful habit for negotiating salary and benefits, promotions and more.