What Is Career Cushioning, and How Can You Do It?

Whether the economy is experiencing an economic downturn or you’ve heard rumors that the company you work for is going through financial difficulties, you may wonder how to secure your employment. Career cushioning is a practice many employees do to ensure they are providing value to their employer and building their skill set.

If the term is unfamiliar, continue reading to learn what it is and how you can do it in your career. Regardless of the current security of your job, it’s always nice to know you’re prepared if the worst-case scenario occurs.

What Is Career Cushioning?

Career cushioning is the practice of creating a backup plan for potential unemployment. People call it cushioning because it is used to cushion yourself from the negative experience of an unexpected job loss while you still have a job.

The reality is that regardless of how hard you work, job security isn’t guaranteed. Career cushioning is about taking action to keep your options open while creating a buffer for wherever the economy is headed.

You can consider the strategy an insurance policy that you can use to set yourself up for success regardless of the state of the economy. The good news is you don’t have to wait for an emergency to implement it. You can use it as an alternate path if you’re unhappy with where your career is currently headed.

When Should You Start Career Cushioning?

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It’s never a bad idea to review where you are in your career and look at your options to build your skills and gain new experiences. If you’re feeling uncertain about the economy or industry, it may be time to start thinking about the next steps for your career.

If you’re in an industry experiencing reductions in hiring, it may be time to start mapping out your future path. Suppose you’re considering getting a side hustle to cushion your career. You may be interested in learning about apps that will help you find a side job instantly.

How to Cushion Your Career

You can take one or more of the following steps to cushion your career for the future.

1. Consider Hiring a Career Coach

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A career coach can work with you to fine-tune your resume and LinkedIn profile to help you get noticed by potential employers and headhunters. They can also help you by conducting mock interviews with you and coaching you through effective job search and networking strategies.

Your work with a career coach can positively affect the number of interviews you get, the quality of job offers you receive, and your starting salary. Working with a coach can help you identify self-sabotaging behaviors preventing you from experiencing the career advancement you’ve been striving for.

2. Stay Connected With Your Network

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Think of your professional network as a garden. It needs to be maintained and nurtured constantly. Your professional network is your most vital asset throughout your career.

When practicing career cushioning, you must ensure you’ve been in regular contact with your connections. You don’t want to reach out to them simply because you’re looking for a favor. Remember: Reciprocity is critical to positive networking relationships.

You can mention to your network that you’re open to new roles by using the “open to work” photo filter on LinkedIn. If you’re unfamiliar with the feature, you may be interested in learning how to use LinkedIn to show recruiters you are open to work.

You can engage in thought-provoking conversations with connections and colleagues on social media to gain industry insights and learn about workshops and conferences. You may also learn about job opportunities and open house events where you can connect with industry professionals and build on your personal brand.

3. Assess Your Current Skill Set

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Taking inventory of your current skills and finding ways to develop and sharpen them is another excellent way to cushion your career. Many skills you have gained in your current job can be transferred to other occupations, industries, and workplaces.

You need to be aware of your skill set to market yourself. Recruiters are searching for potential employees who have transferrable skills.

Whether you currently have a job or are ready to discover what employment opportunities may be in your future, you need to start by clarifying what you have to offer an employer. Take stock of your hard and soft skills, so you know how to market yourself and you can identify any areas you need to develop.

Once you assess your skills, you may want to review your resume to make sure you’ve highlighted the skills potential employers are looking for. You may be interested in learning about the hard and soft skills to include on your resume.

4. Conduct a Professional SWOT Analysis

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After you assess your current skill set, you may want to do a professional SWOT analysis to evaluate where you are. Take a look at the internal factors that you contribute to situations, like your strengths and weaknesses. Consider your personal habits, experience, and hard and soft skills.

The factors that a given situation contributes, such as threats and opportunities, are external and may relate to the influence of coworkers, superiors, competitors, the industry, and work culture. If you haven’t done one before, you may want to learn what SWOT analysis is and how it can help with your personal growth.

After your SWOT analysis, you may better understand the direction you want to take. By comparing sections side-by-side, you can gain a deeper understanding of your situation.

Determine whether your opportunities and strengths can help you overcome your weaknesses and threats. If you’re concerned that the threats and weaknesses are more serious than your opportunities and strengths, create a plan to address them.

Conducting a SWOT analysis can help you assess your chances of accomplishing your professional goals relative to your current situation. It can also give you a good idea of how to present your weaknesses and strengths in future job interviews.

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If you’re contemplating changing industries, you may want to refer to bls.gov, which has information from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can check out different careers and industries and see the projected growth for the next decade.

You can also stay current with what’s happening in specific industries by signing up for industry newsletters. You may learn about a networking event in your area that you want to attend.

Another excellent way to stay on top of industry trends is to read trade journals and magazines. You can also follow business feeds on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can customize your feed so you’ll only see relevant content, which may be more time efficient than reading trade journals.

Stay Ready for Opportunities!

Some may say that preparing for the worst is pessimistic, but not being ready to pivot when faced with unemployment can be a heavy burden. You don’t buy car insurance to get into a car accident, but you know it’s a good thing to have if an accident does happen.

Career cushioning can leave you feeling more positive about your current situation because you have a plan if you lose your job. Instead of worrying about being downsized, consider what you can do to increase your value to your current employer or attract a better offer.

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