How to Re-imagine Your Career During a Recession

Originally posted to LinkedIn. This post expands upon the original.

If it wasn’t for the last recession + Craigslist, I wouldn’t be on the path that I am on today.

It was 2009. The bottom was falling out of the housing market and venture firms were tightening up. Start-ups were finding it hard to get funding (including the start-up I was with) and the recession was impacting everyone’s lives.

My previous 4 years were spent in product management but by the last year, I had started to get more involved in product marketing and lead generation. That was life in a start-up…you do what is needed and learn what you can.

I fell into the world of online marketing and it struck a cord with me. I was fascinated by Google Analytics, looking at traffic reports for the website and learning about blogs, SEM and SEO. That experience didn’t last long, but it left a strong impression.

I was now in the process of looking for my next role in product management. That’s when I came across an ad in Craigslist. Yes, Craigslist.

An unnamed consumer e-commerce company was looking for an analyst to run price elasticity testing. The requirements didn’t mention much more than Excel.

I was great at Excel. I was also interested in working for a B2C company. It was an opportunity jump into e-commerce but with some financial tradeoffs. The position was for contractor and at a quarter of the rate than what I had been making the past decade.

This was a very difficult choice mainly because, as a contractor, the pay was hourly and the hours for this role were approximately 24 per week. That is not much money and was a big sacrifice when you are the sole income for the family. I struggled with the decision to take this role and always debated whether it was the best decision for the family at that particular time.

I decided to apply for the position and got it.

We had to adjust our lifestyle and cut back on a few large expenses. My children were young so they didn’t see or feel any significant changes. My wife held everything down and supported this decisions knowing the impact to our finances. As difficult as this time was, she provided an immense amount of support and was encouraging me throughout.

What I quickly found out about myself is that I love marketing. Specifically the area of marketing that I could measure, make an immediate impact and which carried with it a revenue number. E-commerce was all of that and more.

Years later, my experience in marketing grew, I learned a ton and found new strengths.

My career could have gone in many different directions if not for this sequence of events a decade ago.

It was a risk worth taking.

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