Recent years have seen a variety of employment trends such as Quiet Quitting and The Great Resignation. Career cushioning, however, suggests a shift in the job market. Whereas previously employees have felt more confident about quitting and employers have struggled to fill positions, career cushioning suggests people are becoming more worried about finding stable employment. It certainly seems to have emerged as a reaction to news of mass layoffs, particularly in IT.
What is Career Cushioning?
Many argue Career Cushioning is nothing new. Put simply, career cushioning is about creating a backup plan. The ‘cushioning’ refers to minimising the negative experience of a job loss by preparing to move on while you still have a job.
For most, this may involve taking measures like upskilling, searching for jobs, or planning a route towards alternative careers.
Should you consider Career Cushioning?
Career experts on LinkedIn suggest that preparing by upskilling and keeping an eye on the jobs market is a common sense approach to managing our future prospects. Leadership expert Eric Chua recently posted, ‘In my opinion, career cushioning it is about keeping an open mind, staying relevant and being nimble. These are not revolutionary actions, but best practices that everyone should adopt.’
Career keynote speaker, Shelley Dunstone, also commented ‘We should always be learning and acquiring new skills, even if we intend to stay in the same job.’
This advice seems particularly relevant at the moment, when we are frequently reminded of the threat to many occupations due to the digital transformation of business, which was accelerated by Covid. According to a poll by LinkedIn ‘53% are actively learning new skills to act as career cushioning.’ Developing a broad skill set may be a good strategy to protect your livelihood as the world of work undergoes significant change.
Some consider searching for better prospects while employed to be disloyal. However, if employees carry out career prospecting with discretion and sound ethics, they should have no need to feel concerned. Whilst looking into available opportunities is fine, doing this in your current workplace or on company time is obviously not. Additionally, if you apply for a new role and follow it through to job offer stage, it shows more integrity to take the new job rather than accept counter offers. This wastes potential employers time, and they may not see you as a genuine candidate should you apply to them in future.
However, if you are content with your employer but have heard that your company is having problems or might be planning layoffs, then you should definitely consider it time to start creating a plan B.
How to Get Started
Take an Inventory of your Current Skills. Use career sites and job adverts to compare your list to the skills potential employers seek. Include in your list any skills or qualifications you have which are not necessary for your current role. These could highlight your readiness to aim for a role with more responsibility. Also, if you are considering a change of career or industry, these may also help you identify roles where your skills would be transferable.
Identify Skills Gaps. Make a list of any gaps in your skills that you can realistically address, that would make you a better prospect as an employee. There are many great, flexible, online courses available today that make learning new skills easy. Updating your skill set should also make your feel more positive and confident about your job search.
Update your LinkedIn profile and Resume. According to Forbes, 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn to look for candidates. Updating you profile with a professional headshot and bio section using keywords, make it engaging as possible, as this an essential part of your job search process.
Place those keywords naturally throughout your resume. Most companies today use Applicant Tracking Systems to scan CVs. Placing keywords relevant to the job you’re applying for will help you pass this selection stage. Finally, in both your resume and profile, ensure your experience section grabs recruiters’ attention by using active verbs and focusing on what you achieved rather than your duties.
Build your Network. Networking needn’t make you nervous. You can find out about potential opportunities simply by getting back in touch with existing contacts such as old university friends or former colleagues.
Attending industry events can also be a good source of information. Focus on having conversations about the topics that interest you from your industry rather than placing pressure on yourself to come away with a potential job lead. Your enthusiasm is likely to make a good impression and help you build your contacts that may prove useful in the future.
Finally, if you are career cushioning because job loss is likely, avoid making new financial commitments and start building an emergency fund to support you through six months without income. See our recent article on How to prepare if you think you are going to be laid off for more useful advice.
Enlist expert help with your next move
Has it been a while since you last underwent a job search? Or perhaps you need some guidance about your next career move? Hiring a career coach is one possibility. However, a reputable, independent recruiter can help you, not only with advice on the latest resume and interview preparations, but with a wealth of industry connections to help find you your ideal role.
Graham at Wireless Mobile International Search (WMIS) has successfully placed sales professionals in management and leadership roles, globally, for over 18 years. Wireless Mobile International Search have built a solid reputation for providing a highly professional talent-matching service for sales, pre-sales, and business development roles. Contact Graham today to see how WMIS can support you.