Amidst a grim economic landscape marked by inflation, escalating interest rates, and erratic hiring practices, the notion of ‘career cushioning’ has gained traction within HR circles. Career cushioning entails proactive measures undertaken by employees to mitigate the impact of potential job losses, positioning themselves to swiftly re-enter the workforce should sudden unemployment strike.

These measures encompass vigilant monitoring of job market dynamics, active networking, and staying abreast of industry advancements to uphold a sense of job stability. Some individuals may even opt to actively pursue new job opportunities. According to findings from recruitment agency Robert Walters, over a third (37%) of workers are engaging in such contingency measures.

Further inquiries into preparatory actions reveal that two-thirds (66%) are diligently tracking the job market, while 43% have updated their resumes. Additionally, a significant portion (33%) are actively seeking new employment opportunities.

In this blog, we delve into the concept of career cushioning, elucidate why it has become indispensable in today’s employment landscape, and offer practical strategies for employees to navigate job security amidst prevailing uncertainties.

Factors driving the rise of career cushioning

The prevailing economic conditions are marked by surging inflation rates and escalating interest rates, exacerbated by the enduring effects of the pandemic on hiring norms. In response to this climate of uncertainty, employees are actively seeking methods to safeguard their professional trajectories.

Economic indicators hint at the looming possibility of a recession. The spectre of the 2007 financial crisis and its aftermath, including widespread job losses, remains vivid in collective memory. Recognising the imperative to brace for potential employment volatility, individuals are embracing career cushioning as a proactive measure. With the contemporary work landscape vastly altered by the pandemic, any semblance of job security is considerably more fragile than in the pre-pandemic era.

What does career cushioning involve?

Career cushioning encompasses a range of proactive measures aimed at fortifying one’s professional standing and resilience in the face of potential job instability.

These actions typically include the following:

  • Monitoring Job Market Trends: Actively staying informed about shifts in the job market, including industry trends, demand for specific skills, and the overall employment outlook.
  • Networking: cultivating and maintaining professional connections within one’s industry or field to access potential job opportunities, gather insights, and seek support during times of uncertainty.
  • Skill Development: Continuously upgrading and diversifying skills to remain competitive in the job market and enhance employability across various roles and industries.
  • Resume and Profile Updating: Regularly updating resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and other professional profiles to reflect recent accomplishments, skills, and experiences, ensuring they are optimised for attracting potential employers.
  • Exploring Alternative Income Streams: Diversifying income sources through freelancing, consulting, or pursuing side projects to provide financial stability and flexibility during periods of job transition.
  • Financial Planning: Building emergency savings, managing debts, and establishing a financial safety net to weather unforeseen employment challenges.
  • Continuous Learning and Adaptation: Embracing a growth mindset and remaining adaptable to change, seeking out learning opportunities, and being open to acquiring new skills or knowledge relevant to evolving job requirements.
  • Seeking Feedback and Mentorship: actively seeking feedback on performance, seeking mentorship from experienced professionals, and leveraging guidance to navigate career challenges and opportunities effectively.

Continuous Learning and Skill Development:

Employees seeking to bolster their job security will find value in ongoing learning and skill enhancement. This entails staying abreast of industry advancements, obtaining new certifications, participating in workshops, and enrolling in online courses aligned with their career objectives. By adopting this proactive stance, individuals ensure their continued relevance and indispensability in an evolving job landscape.

Networking and Building Connections:

Engaging in active networking within the industry broadens employees’ circle of professional connections. By participating in conferences, seminars, and industry gatherings, individuals seize valuable chances to connect with peers and potential employers who share their interests. Cultivating such a robust network heightens the prospects of uncovering alternative job options if the situation demands it.

Maintaining an Updated CV and Online Presence:

Employees will frequently revise their resumes to showcase their latest achievements, experiences, and acquired skills. Moreover, they might adopt a more proactive approach by ensuring an up-to-date online presence on professional platforms like LinkedIn. These platforms offer a distinct avenue for potential employers to uncover their expertise and professional journey.

Side Projects and Freelancing:

Participating in side projects or freelancing endeavours can offer an extra source of income and expand one’s professional connections. These opportunities not only serve as a financial cushion in times of uncertainty but also have the potential to uncover new career pathways.

Staying informed and flexible:

Regularly monitoring industry news, economic trends, and company developments aids in staying abreast of potential shifts in the job market. Maintaining this awareness enables individuals to adapt swiftly. Embracing a flexible mindset and being open to exploring new roles, industries, or locations enhances the likelihood of discovering alternative employment avenues during periods of instability.

By continually honing skills, expanding networks, and staying attuned to industry developments, employees can construct a safety net of alternative opportunities amidst uncertain times. These proactive measures instill a sense of security and improve the prospects of a smoother transition in the event of a job loss. Embracing this proactive approach empowers individuals to navigate their careers adeptly and respond effectively to unforeseen challenges.