Career Cushioning: How To Safeguard Your Career

Though this latest workplace trend isn’t the cheeriest, ‘career cushioning’ could help you bounce back from job loss as a result of the economy in the future and set you up for success. It’s no secret that, as costs rise, many companies are looking to make savings wherever they can or folding altogether. Sadly, there isn’t much you can do to future proof your current role against lay offs but there are things you can do to make sure you’re ready to hit the ground running if it does happen. 

Career cushioning is actually a phrase that derives from the dating world, where people shop around for future romantic options while still in a relationship. And while we don’t recommend doing this if you are committed to someone else, when it comes to your career it’s a whole different thing. In professional terms, it refers to keeping your options open and taking actions to “cushion the landing” should something unexpected occur. And the trend isn’t surprising, given that a growing number of organisations are laying off workers as they prepare for a potential recession brought about by high inflation and rising interest rates.

“As a result of economic uncertainty, we’ve seen a recent increase in employees taking precautions at work in the form of ‘career cushioning,” says Charlotte Davies, Career Expert at LinkedIn. “This means they are taking actions to cushion themselves, for whatever comes next in the economy and job market. This doesn’t mean employees are changing their attitude towards their current role. Instead, they’re using ‘career cushioning’ as an insurance policy to set themselves up for success should they need to in the future.

Career cushioning is a pragmatic approach for those wanting to feel prepared for any change that might come their way. It can be anything from learning new skills in a bid to broaden their knowledge in other areas and have a set of transferable skills to fall back on, to seeking more professional connections. 

And, according to LinkedIn’s data, many users are already in full-cushioning mode. “We’ve seen our members add 365 million skills to their profiles over the last 12 months, up 43% year-over-year. This is career cushioning in practice – it’s upskilling, reaching out to your professional network and building up your profile again,” Charlotte explains. 

Here’s exactly how to ‘career cushion’ 

Here are some easy first steps to take in your career cushioning journey, according to the experts at LinkedIn: 

  • Be open – “If you are feeling unhappy in your current role, take the time to have an open and transparent conversation with your manager to see if anything can be changed or if there are any opportunities for growth. Be sure to make it clear to your employer that you’re committed to your current role.”
  • Update your LinkedIn profile – “As well as having an up-to-date headshot and bio, be sure to include relevant skills and keywords featured in descriptions of jobs that seem interesting to you in your profile. This can further boost your visibility in recruiter searches.”
  • Get started on upskilling – “For a lot of people, career cushioning is an exercise in building confidence. By taking advantage of online classes, such as LinkedIn Learning Courses, Udemy, Girls Code First and SkillShare, you can give yourself the confidence that if things do go wrong, you’re armed with a wide set of skills to support a future job search.”
  • Tap your network – “There are 9,000 connections made every minute on LinkedIn and tapping the right person at the right time is the magic formula that can help get your foot in the door.” Of course, there are also many other resources you can use to connect – Twitter is a useful job-finding and connection-creating tool, as are alternative apps like Bumble Biz and Victoria. 
  • See who is hiring – “You can also check out and follow companies who might be hiring. On LinkedIn, when you visit the “Jobs” tab, you can now see who’s hiring in your network, and in your network’s network.” Joining recruitment agencies is also a good way to be kept in the loop on new jobs and getting a feel for what is out there and what you might be suited to.