Workplace Trend: What to Know About Career Cushioning

Career Cushioning: What to Know in Creating a 'Safety Net' for Your Career

Explainer Career cushioning

Headlines about layoffs and hiring freezes were everywhere as the COVID-19 pandemic and sky-high inflation aggrandized the recession, not to mention the atrocities of the Russian-Ukraine conflict that fueled economic uncertainties. One of the strongest indicators of how these events affected the economy is the tightening labor market.

During these trying times, working professionals may have thought of finding a more secure job and expanding their skillset – aka career cushioning.

What is ‘Career Cushioning’

Whether you’ve heard about it or not, this new workplace trend is a relatable concept where “professionals brace themselves to counter the challenges of the economic downturn” through “small actions that can help them get another job if their role is made redundant,” according to Get Hired via LinkedIn News.

The term career cushioning was inspired by a dating strategy, where one has a backup plan or "soft landing" to avoid the fiasco of heartbreak, such as engaging in multiple dates. It's a real-life example of the classic saying, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket."

In the workplace, career cushioning serves as a “plan B” to ensure security in your professional life. Southeast Asia’s leading online employment website, JobStreet, indicated in its Job Outlook Report 2022 - The Rise to Recovery that “job security” is the top key driver of attraction for workers in the Philippines.

“As salaries become more competitive on the road to recovery, companies should understand candidates more to maintain an edge over competitors,” the report read.

Looking back in 2021, layoffs due to project completion or end of contract ticked up at 36.9% while retrenchment and downsizing stood at 16.9%, according to a press release by the Philippine Statistic Authority on April 6, 2022.

How to Do ‘Career Cushioning’ the Right Way? 

There is a discussion on whether career cushioning is ethical or not. It may be argued that such behavior is unacceptable as companies expect employees to give their best shot at work. Others believe that career cushioning is nothing more than being “realistic” and “preparing for the worst,” and that it isn’t wrong as long as you are not neglecting your current job. It’s keeping your resume updated in case a better opportunity presents itself.

To make you familiar, here’s how to cushion your career the right way. 

1. Improve your marketability by learning a new skill. Find the top 20 in-demand skills here.

2. Examine the stability of your role in the company. Do your own research rather than just listening to rumors and gossip. Here’s how you can conduct a job analysis according to Indeed.

3. Explore part-time jobs or side hustles. Having a lucrative side hustle can keep your rainy-day fund from running dry in case of job loss due to unfavorable economic conditions. At the same time, you continue to learn reliable skills to add to your resume. Here’s a list of side hustles you can do from the comfort of your own home.

What Do Experts Say? 

From quiet quitting and quiet firing to zoom fatigue and desk bombing, there are many catchphrases buzzing among workplaces.

In light of the current economic climate, it would seem that career cushioning is the best way to safeguard one's financial future. What do experts have to say about this idea?

In an interview with HR Grapevine, Lensa Content Lead Brad Goodwin mentioned the significance of networking. Establishing professional relationships does not revolve around talking to strangers to create new connections, but rather “nourishing [the] existing ones.”

Moreover, Goodwin highly encourages doing career cushioning with extra caution. Make it a priority to construct a backup plan without disregarding your existing role and duties. Stability can be achieved by maintaining a healthy mental state and being mindful of the actions you are about to take.

In a similar vein, LinkedIn Career Expert Blair Heitmann shared her thoughts on career cushioning via Insider. She mentioned her habit of jotting down her plans for her career.

“It's always helped me to really think through how to be prepared…Write it down and make a game plan."

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