ARE YOU CAREER CUSHIONING?
Worrying about the financial impact of redundancy can give us sleepless nights. This is when it pays to have a Plan B in your back pocket.
In the current economic climate, “career cushioning” is a trend that is seeing rapid growth in popularity. In fact, according to Google trends, search terms around career cushioning have increased by 5000% in the last 12 months.
Brad Goodwin, Content Lead at job search engine Lensa, explains what this means: “Career cushioning is a way to protect yourself if you are laid off. Instead of simply looking for a new job, employees who “career cushion” are searching for a back-up plan without intending to leave their current role.” Goodwin continues: “Just like having some money put aside in case you have to go without a salary for some time, career cushioning works to ensure that you don’t spend too long looking for the next job that pays your bills”.
Goodwin reveals his expert tips on career cushioning:
1. Networking is still key – and it doesn’t have to be hard
“If you are personally acquainted with the company, there is a higher chance that you will be hired quickly, bypassing some initial stages of the hiring process, thus not letting your rainy day fund run dry.” says Goodwin. Some people find the idea of networking very stressful as they think about how they feel uncomfortable going to events and trying to strike up a conversation with strangers or messaging people they don’t know on LinkedIn.
However, many tend to forget that networking is a much broader concept and that strengthening your network is not only about making new connections, but also nourishing existing ones. For example, you can contact a former colleague or a university friend and suggest a catch-up – it will allow you to see what others in your network are up to and help you strengthen your relationships with them.
In tough times we rely on communities, and job search is no different. Remember that networking is not about contacting someone once to ask for a job, but rather, it is about being aware of those in your professional circles and maintaining contact with them.
2. Keep an eye out for changes in the industry
When the economy takes unexpected turns, the market has to adjust, which can change the landscape of the industry, which can turn into opportunities. “You want to make sure that you stay on top of things and follow all the emerging trends in your industry so that you are ready to take advantage of them should you need to look for a new job” says Goodwin. Perhaps your skills could be used in ways or jobs you hadn’t considered before.
3. Go the extra mile
Think about how to position yourself well in the current job market, especially since other candidates across the country will be doing the same thing you are doing – looking and applying for jobs while those jobs become more scarce.
Instead of just looking at new jobs, consider improving your skills to make you a stronger candidate. Does the company you work in right now offer training opportunities? Now is the time to start taking advantage of them. And soft skills should not be overlooked – over 80% of hiring managers report placing great importance on candidates’ soft skills.
4. Take it one step further
If you have a passion project or work-related interests outside of your current job, you might want to consider turning them into a side hustle. Having a project that contributes to your income can give you a sense of security in times of uncertainty while also providing extra value to your resume.
What are the risks or disadvantages to career cushioning?
“While this practice can be helpful in the current economy, it should be exercised with caution.” say experts at Lensa. “Career cushioning is meant to provide a ‘Plan B’ as opposed to replacing your current role, so it is important that your search for other options doesn’t take away from your current role, and that you don’t lose sight of its responsibilities.” Goodwin continues. After all, stability is what we seek in times like these, and retaining your current position is what will get you closer to that goal.
Be mindful of your mental wellbeing – career cushioning is supposed to be a way to make you feel more secure, not worse, so do not let yourself stress about it. If you do not see many jobs that are relevant to you listed this week, try again next week and then take it from there.
Words: Alexandra Munko