Kat Boogaard

Dear Kat: Maintaining Your Professional Reputation During a Downturn

Blog Post created by Kat Boogaard on Jan 16, 2017

It’s no secret that the energy industry is currently in a downturn, which means plenty of qualified, capable, and skilled employees are now unemployed and actively searching for new opportunities.


Of course, there are things you know you need to do when you’re job hunting—like polishing your resume and preparing yourself for any upcoming interviews, for example. But, many eager candidates want to go beyond that bare minimum and do whatever they can to continue improving their competitive standing and keep their skills sharp.


Needless to say, this makes today’s “Dear Kat” question an important one:


Dear Kat, Thanks to the downturn, I’ve been out of work for several months. I’m doing what I can to find work, but I still worry that this period of unemployment will cause me to look unengaged in my career—like I’m content to coast until I find my next opportunity. Do you have any suggestions for how I can continue to stay professionally active and involved, even when I’m riding the wave of this downturn?


This is a great question! And, I’ll offer tons of kudos and plenty of virtual high-fives to anybody who’s interested in staying on top of their game—even when they don’t necessarily have to.


Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to keep yourself sharp (and continue building an impressive resume), even when you’re unemployed. Let’s cover just a few of them.


1. Join Professional Associations

Whether you’re currently employed or not, networking remains important. And, one of the best ways to stay connected when you’re out of work is to join various professional associations.


Maybe there’s a local chapter for professionals in your area. Or, perhaps you want to join a national industry group (ahem, much like Pink Petro!) to connect with other like-minded people who are familiar with the type of work you do (and, thus, might have more beneficial connections and advice to offer).


Do some research to identify some associations that you’d be interested in joining. Not only will it give you the chance to expand your network and shake hands with some new people, but it’ll also be a solid addition to your resume.


2. Volunteer Your Time

Volunteering is another effective way to meet new connections, beef up your resume, and maybe even learn some new skills.


When you think of volunteering, things like helping out at places like homeless shelters might be the first things to pop into mind. And, true, those are great and generous uses of your time!


But, you can also offer your time for volunteer opportunities that are more career relevant. For example, perhaps you can offer to speak to a college class. Or, maybe you can join a nonprofit board that would benefit from your expertise.



Chances are, you have some additional spare time on your hands right now. So, donate it to worthy (and maybe even career-boosting!) causes, and you’ll be in impressive shape for any future interviews.


3. Polish Your LinkedIn Profile

You know you need to keep your resume polished up and ready to go when you’re job searching. But, think about it: The only people who really see that are the potential employers you send it to.


Your LinkedIn profile, on the other hand? That’s out there for pretty much anyone to take a look at. Think of it as your digital first impression. Plus, LinkedIn is a great way to network with people who aren’t in your immediate geographical area.


So, don’t neglect to keep your profile updated. Ensure you have a professional photo that clearly shows your face, optimize your headline to make it clear you’re searching for your next opportunity, and craft an impressive summary. Trust me, when a possible employer or a new networking connection looks at your profile, you’ll be glad you took the time!


4. Learn New Skills

Using your free time to pick up a few new skills is also a great way to boost your reputation when you’re actively seeking a new role.


Whether you want to read a book that’s been on your list for ages, sign up for a class, or even participate in an online course or webinar, there are plenty of ways that you can add to your skillset—even when you aren’t working.


It’ll keep you feeling sharp and qualified, while also giving you that much more value you can bring to the table for prospective employers. It’s a win-win.



There’s no doubt that keeping your chin up during a downturn can be challenging. But, if you’re smart, you’ll find some ways to continuously improve your professional reputation, whether you’re currently working or not.


Put these four tips into play, and you’re to keep your skills sharp—allowing you to approach your job hunt with that much more confidence.