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by Vault Careers | March 10, 2009


Recessions are inevitable. What does this mean for the job applicant? Only that it makes sense to look at which industries and firms have prospered historically in less than peachy economic times. Here's a quick rundown of which companies thrive and which falter.


Consulting: Consultants solve problems, and a shaky economy causes problems. It's no wonder that consulting firms, while not recession-proof, weren't hurt by the recession of the late 1980s and early 1990s. And even if the economy takes a nosedive, companies will still have to contend with information technology implementation. Consulting firms like Andersen Consulting and Booz-Allen should weather any tough economic times with aplomb. Less certain is the fate of strategy shops like Monitor and Bain; when the economy is weakening, executives become more reluctant to invest in less concrete strategic plans.

Consumer products and pharmaceuticals: Even when times are tough, people still need to eat, and they still go to the doctor. Firms like Procter & Gamble and Merck sailed through the last recession.

Entertainment: While the restaurant and travel and tourism industries suffer when paychecks are thin, the movie and TV business keeps going strong. "Even when people have to skip their vacations and can't go to the nicest restaurants, they still want to get out of the house. Going to the movies is escapist and relatively cheap, and watching TV is even cheaper," says one industry analyst.


Venture Capital: Always a difficult field to crack, VC is even tougher when there are fewer promising young companies in which to invest.

Investment banking: Emerging markets go into a tailspin when the world is gripped by unfavorable economic conditions, and mergers and acquisitions activity is at a standstill. Investment management, which can rely on fairly dependable mutual fund fees, is more stable. One asset manager explains that ?the industry does not swell and contract as much as the economy/financial services industry as a whole.?

Keep in mind, however, that the job market is slowing down from an incredibly overheated market not to a recession market, but to an average job market. There are jobs to be had - at least, this recruiting season.


Filed Under: Job Search

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