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Ask HN: Industries to consider as a developer to weather the next recession?
19 points by ed_at_work 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 10 comments
I'm currently on the job market, and one of the things on my mind is I'd like to pick a company that may survive the next economic collapse. All signs seem to point to an upcoming large correction to this bubble economy, and I'd hate to be laid off because of it.

Does anybody consider how "recession proof" their job may be? Any thoughts on what industries to look towards for better job security? Obviously a lot of startups and investor backed companies are probably not a safe bet.


If that is your priority, go with whatever not-obviously-risky company that wants to pay you the most money, and save up for when the recession eventually comes. Bonus points: buy up undervalued assets during the recession, subject to your risk tolerance.

Not very lucrative jobs in general but perhaps something within education? Typically subsidised and higher level sometimes sees an increase in applicants during a downturn.

Recently I met with the head of IT for a large high school and it honestly seemed like a cool job. They were building a bunch platforms. Apps for parents, auto-debit functionality for school fees, access control & remote learning functionality. Plus general digitisation of the school operations.

Id recommend a soundproofed office though :P

Why are they building all these things themselves?

Thousands of schools have exactly the same operating model and the same needs. Is there no one offering solutions off the shelf? Even for billing and payments?

It seems crazy that each school would need to build their own.

(I work in higher ed IT) If you're a small school, with most of your income from teaching, COTS solutions can indeed work well.

But if most of your money comes from research, things can get interesting quickly. Research usually means high diversity, with the requirement for speed. This is fun. I wouldn't change my job easily.

Typically, uni's outsource <10% of their IT. Higher ed is not a very big or profitable market segment. Regulatory and compliance requirements can differ wildly, even between neighboring states or provinces, and especially if subsidies are involved. So, even less attractive for standardized software. That's why the COTS offerings are limited. Don't be surprised if you hear about larger uni's spending tens of millions on ERP-type systems. Not everybody can afford that, though.

Sorry, when I said 'school', I was referring to what Americans call K-12, and not to universities.

The comment to which I replied referred to a high school's need for custom software, and that is what I find odd.

A typical high school has probably a tenth as many people (staff+students) as a typical university.

It was a relatively large paid/private high school.

What Pete27 mentions in regards to higher level is also applicable in high schools, at least where I am (Indonesia). They have varying requirements and while they sometimes look for off the shelf solutions in places it still involves a lot of tying systems together.

> Even for billing and payments?

Funnily enough - thats why I was there. We have built a platform for that. But due to the complexities of payments infrastructure it looks very different to what you would typically find in developed countries. And that particular integration was API based to a system they were building in house.

Look for anti-cyclical companies and more generally “value” companies (in opposition to growth companies). This means large companies in banking, insurance, telcos... Consider that everyone has to purchase home and car insurance, whether the economy is booming or in a recession. Everyone will still have a mobile plan and/or an internet connection. Everyone will still buy groceries at Walmart. Any sector that grows slowly during economic booms will shrink slowly in a recession.

Other factors: the bigger the company, the more inertia it has (assuming your job suppports its core business; even large companies will cut side or non-essential activities if the economic forecast is bad). B2B companies are less exposed to a recession at first, because of longer contracts and decision cycles in enterprise customers (it’s relatively easy and quick for an individual to downgrade their internet plan to save money; it takes much longer for a large company to renegotiate a telco contract). Defense is always a safe bet.

So basically the bigger the company, the more boring and/or morally dubious the sector, the better :D

I think you're more likely to recession proof yourself with a side business rather than another job.

Business owners rarely fire themselves.

Their customers do though.

work in a mortuary, suicide rates climb when bubbles pop => secure job

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