5 Ways to Career Cushion Right Now

Wondering about the security of your job and if you should be career cushioning? Here's everything you need to know about why and how to do it.

With layoffs across the tech and business sectors in the last few months, many employees wonder if they’re next. With huge changes across several fields and a possible recession on the horizon, they’re concerned they may be let go. And they might be right.

Worried that you might be next? Then now is the time to take active steps to protect yourself, or career cushion. Read on to learn what this term means, and how to do it effectively so you’re always prepared in case of the worst-case scenario.

What is career cushioning?

Career cushioning means proactively developing new skills outside your current job description to prepare for future opportunities,” explains Thom Wright, Global Master Coach at EZRA, a virtual coaching platform. “It’s not new, but in a rapidly changing work landscape that’s being impacted by new technologies, geopolitical conflict and a looming recession, career cushioning should be on everyone’s radar.

According to Wright, career cushioning should be done through self-reflection (what do you like?) and external reflection (researching trends and future demand areas) and tying those two things together as you consider making moves to a new job or deciding to stay put.

How to career cushion the right way

It might seem overwhelming, but here are a few practical tips to begin career cushioning for yourself.

Check in on values

“Ask yourself if you know your workplace values,” suggests Kelsea Warren, a workplace well-being coach and consultant. “Once you’re clear on your personal values, ask if they’re aligned with your role and work environment.”

Self assess

There is nothing wrong with wanting to know what you don’t know. “Ask yourself what areas you need more knowledge, experience or education,” Warren suggests. “You can also ask yourself what your long-term career goals are and if you’re on track to achieve those goals.” If you discover you’re not on track, plot out your next steps. Don’t forget to take a look at your soft skills too—these days, they’re more important than ever.

Stay current

Go through your files and look at what needs to be updated. “This could be your LinkedIn, resume, cover letters, elevator pitch, certifications, licenses, etc.,” Warren says.

Of all of these, it’s most important to know what to put on your resume. “Your resume should always be driven by the qualifications and keywords associated with your target job, which might be different than your current role,” offers Rachel Bellow, co-founder of Bonfire, a talent development accelerator for the rising generation of women in the workplace. “The art of resumes and LinkedIn profiles is not just knowing what to add but also what to take out. If employers have to wade through irrelevant information on your resume, they will move on to the next candidate.”

Network from the heart

Make sure your work life includes people you genuinely like, from whom you regularly learn and whom you’d want to hang out with even if work weren’t the topic of conversation,” Bellow says.

Put your natural curiosity in the driver’s seat

Engagement has to be organic and personal,” Bellow says. Instead of thinking about skill-building from the perspective of I should know more about this so I can get that, think about your innate curiosity. “What do you find yourself thinking about when you’re not being paid?” Bellows asks. “Build your skills around that!”

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Jaime Stathis
Jaime Alexis Stathis is a nonfiction writer who covers humans, wildlife, technology, social justice and everything related to being a human being on a constantly evolving planet. Jaime is working on a novel about a heroine who saves herself and a memoir about caring for her grandmother through the dark stages of dementia.