Career Cushioning Strategy: Navigating Career Uncertainty

Career Cushioning Strategy: Navigating Career Uncertainty

In times of company-wide layoffs or industry shifts, anxiety about the stability of your career naturally sets in. This concern often manifests as a strategic approach known as “Career Cushioning.” This involves proactively exploring alternative job opportunities while still employed, creating a safety net to mitigate the impact of potential job loss or dissatisfaction. By establishing a backup plan, individuals can better navigate the volatility of the job market and keep their options open.

Understanding Career Cushioning:

The term “Career Cushioning” draws parallels from a dating strategy where individuals have backup partners in case the current relationship falters. Similarly, in the professional realm, Career Cushioning involves developing contingency plans to safeguard one’s career trajectory in the face of unexpected changes. This strategic approach can take various forms, such as monitoring job boards, taking on freelance work, or upskilling to enhance one’s skill set beyond the current role.

Career Cushioning is neither inherently good nor bad; its value lies in providing individuals with a sense of confidence during uncertain times. Whether through freelancing, networking, or upskilling, it equips individuals with tools to navigate the job market effectively.

Pros and Cons of Career Cushioning:


  • Facilitates a quicker transition to a new job if current employment is lost.
  • Provides additional income to supplement the existing salary.
  • Encourages networking within the industry.
  • Keeps skills current through additional training and development.


  • May divert attention from current responsibilities.
  • Potential risks if the current employer discovers these activities.
  • Possible conflicts of interest between freelance work and full-time employment.
  • Adds stress due to simultaneous job hunting or overworking.

When to Consider Career Cushioning:

Determining whether Career Cushioning is suitable depends on individual circumstances. If job security is a concern, especially in an era where economic conditions, internal business changes, and job dissatisfaction prevail, career cushioning may be a prudent strategy. Assessing your career confidence – the alignment of your work with your values and goals – is crucial in deciding whether to embark on this journey.

  1. Mismatched Expectations in Current Role:
    • Feeling unappreciated or unchallenged.
    • Salary misalignment or discordance with company values.
    • Dissatisfaction leading to disengagement, a prevalent issue as evidenced by an 18% increase in worker dissatisfaction from 2020 to 2022.
  2. Burnout or Anxiety:
    • Global reports indicate a staggering 42% of workers experiencing burnout.
    • Overcoming burnout is essential for long-term career satisfaction.
    • Career Cushioning offers a potential solution by revealing alternative roles with different responsibilities.
  3. Concerns about Layoffs or Job Termination:
    • Anxiety about potential instability within the company or industry.
    • Strategically using Career Cushioning to recover quickly after a layoff.
  4. Apprehension about Job Termination:
    • Addressing unfounded concerns about job termination.
    • Leveraging Career Cushioning for added security and positive mindset.

Initiating Career Cushioning:

Embarking on a Career Cushioning journey involves strategic planning and proactive measures.

  1. Network Within Your Field:
    • Attend industry events and utilise platforms like LinkedIn for networking.
    • Craft an effective elevator pitch to highlight your expertise.
    • Reach out for advice or mentoring, fostering valuable connections.
  2. Stay Informed About Job Opportunities:
    • Discreetly update your LinkedIn profile and portfolio.
    • Set up job alerts on platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, FlexJobs, and Upwork.
  3. Maintain Motivation During Job Search:
    • Break down the job search into manageable goals.
    • Celebrate achievements and practice self-care to combat job search-related stress.
  4. Prioritise Well-being:
    • Manage burnout through effective time management.
    • Discuss career growth opportunities with your manager for added support.
  5. Financial Planning:
    • Establish emergency savings to cover at least three months’ expenses.
    • Consider part-time jobs or side hustles for additional income.
    • Understand severance package rights and negotiate effectively.

Tips for Successful Career Cushioning:

  1. Be Proactive:
    • Market yourself effectively by refining your portfolio and online profiles.
    • Actively pursue opportunities, reaching out to potential employers directly.
    • Engage in upskilling to modernise your skill set.
  2. Embrace Flexibility:
    • Consider alternative solutions such as contract work or freelance opportunities.
    • Take stock of your skills and interests to align with fulfilling career options.
    • Be open to constructive feedback and continuous learning.
  3. Maintain Positivity:
    • Combat imposter syndrome with positive affirmations.
    • Acknowledge and process feelings of grief or anxiety about potential job loss.
    • Don’t rely on a single job possibility; diversify your options.
  4. Understand the Importance of Career Coaching:
    • Seek guidance from a career coach for expert advice and mentorship.
    • Align your career goals with your values and passions.
    • Leverage coaching to navigate transitions effectively.

Unlocking Potential: Exploring Corporate Training

What is corporate training, a strategic investment in employee development, empowers individuals to navigate the ever-evolving professional landscape. At Rilca, we redefine learning experiences through personalised counselling and comprehensive training services. Whether it’s upskilling, leadership development, or fostering a resilient workforce, our tailored programmes ensure that your team thrives in today’s competitive business environment. Embrace the transformative journey of corporate training with Rilca, where growth isn’t just encouraged; it’s nurtured.

In a job market marked by frequent layoffs, Career Cushioning emerges as a reassuring safety net. Forbes’ Layoff Tracker for 2023 highlights the prevalence of workforce reductions, reinforcing the need for proactive career management. By strategically adopting Career Cushioning, individuals can protect themselves from job uncertainties and navigate their professional futures with greater confidence. If you’re considering a career change or preparing for potential layoffs, BetterUp can provide invaluable support. Our expert career coaches offer tailored guidance, helping you build a fulfilling career aligned with your values and passions.


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