Looking for a job in the 2023 recession? Here are four things you need to know

Looking for a job in the 2023 recession? Here are four things you need to know

A panel event at TMU discussed the concerns and ambitions of students and new grads entering the job market today. Here are the key takeaways

On February 8, Desjardins and Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU)’s Ted Rogers Students’ Society (TRSS) came together to host a panel discussion on the potential recession and its impact on young people.

Panel moderator Sinduja Sriskantharajah, a TRSS member and mentor, shared the stage with three economic and labour market experts: Marc Desormeaux, a principal economist at Desjardins; John Isbister, an economics professor at TMU; and Medhat Sedarose, a senior manager for the Ted Rogers School of Management’s co-op program. 

Amid rising inflation and higher costs of living and housing across Canada, there’s a greater need for new grads entering the job market to be aware of the economic climate and know how to cope in times of uncertainty—a call that Desjardins has heard loud and clear. This event was their latest effort to educate and empower the next generation of young leaders to tackle the challenges ahead.  

Ready to take control of your financial future? Here are four takeaways from the discussion that could help kickstart your career during the potential 2023 recession.

View of the crowd and panelists at the event.

The job market is booming

According to Desjardins’ Desormeaux, the Canadian economy started off 2023 with a bang thanks to its strong labour market. Statistics Canada’s latest Labour Force Survey showed that in January 2023 the number of employed Canadians jumped by 150,000—121,000 of whom had full-time roles. 

“A lot of firms aren’t able to operate at full capacity, and they’re looking for workers to fill open positions,” said Desormeaux. “That’s why we don’t think that the losses in jobs will be as significant as we’ve seen during previous periods of economic downturn.”

Marc Desormeaux, a principal economist at Desjardins speaks amongst panelists.

Don’t underestimate your skills

While many students and young professionals are intimidated by stiff competition with more experienced workers for open positions, Sedarose emphasized the importance of a varied skill set to differentiate yourself. “What are you bringing to the table over someone else?” he asked.

He recommends students develop their skills both inside and outside the classroom through co-op programs, boot camps, online courses, trade publications and books.

For example, TMU offers numerous programs, networking events and training opportunities beyond the classroom, including DMZ Launchpad, a year-round skills development and business training program for entrepreneurs sponsored by Desjardins. Free training through online sources like Coursera or Google Career Certificates can also help job seekers stand out.

“You can build your knowledge without paying an extra dime for your tuition,” Sedarose said, highlighting that existing opportunities at your school or workplace can help improve soft skills such as communication, networking and leadership, as well as hard skills like coding, design and copywriting. 

John Isbister, an economics professor at TMU, chats with young professionals.

Remain flexible

Professionals today rarely remain in the same job, or even career, for decades. Now is the time to adapt and be open minded when considering opportunities.

“The labour market is much more fluid now compared to previous recessions, and that’s freeing,” said Isbister. Be open to different positions, companies and roles that you may not have pictured for yourself in post-secondary.

Desormeaux also noted that with demographic changes in the workforce due to retiring baby boomers, employers may be more flexible as they try to fill the gaps. This is a great time for young workers to take a chance applying for jobs that may have previously been out of reach, or even to consider a career change.

A young professional in the crowd sits among his peers asking the panel a question.

Never stop networking

Whether you’re looking for a job or a new opportunity, it’s all about building connections.

“I’ve built relationships that turned into a job, which turned into another, and then another, and here I am almost a decade later,” said Sedarose. “That’s networking—not what I learned in a classroom.” 

Whether you’re interacting with people at your school, participating in programs at institutions such as TMU or browsing your professional and personal social networks, seek connections with those in your field.

Desormeaux added that a solid network is a great resource to lean on during difficult times while also continuing to look for ways to grow. The perfect job might not show up right away, but as your connections strengthen, you learn more, and that leads to other opportunities.

Click here to learn more about Desjardins and their ongoing youth initiatives including their Dream the Impossible event bringing together 1,000 youth from across Canada to rally around current challenges and make their voices heard.

Participants line up to enter the Desjardins' How to Navigate a Recession event

Outside view of Ted Rogers School of Management

The crowd listens to panelists at the Desjardins How to Navigate a Recession event.

Panelists answer questions at the Desjardins How to Navigate a Recession event.

John Isbister, an economics professor at TMU, speaks as a panelist.

Networking at the Desjardins How to Navigate a Recession event.

Medhat Sedarose, a senior manager for Ted Rogers School of Management’s co-op program, speaks on the panel.