‘Career Cushioning’ Trending Among Workers

Career cushioning
Recruiters review resume of job applicant during employment interview | Image by fizkes/Shutterstock

Some Americans who are worried about job security have adopted a new trend called “career cushioning” to prepare for a potential loss of work.

“Career cushioning is essentially just that – professionals creating a ‘cushion’ for themselves in case things don’t go their way in employment,” explained Elliot Jackson, director of the headhunting and recruitment firm Robert Walters Austin, per U.S. News & World Report.

“The practice of career cushioning involves professionals conducting a job search or interviewing for potential new jobs in order [to] have something lined up just in case.”

The concept also includes workers taking steps — such as attending networking events, keeping their resume updated, and applying for jobs — to help ensure they remain competitive even if they lose their current gig, reported Fox 4 KDFW.

Taylor Queen, human resources adviser with Insperity in Orlando, Florida, said the strategy is designed to make one’s career more robust.

“Although ‘career cushioners’ may not want to leave their current position, they decide to get a jumpstart in case their role should change or be eliminated,” said Queen.

As of October 2023, there were 0.7 unemployed Americans for every job opening, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Despite the gap in favor of workers, some still feel the need to prepare for a possible layoff.

Queen said this can help ensure employees minimize the gap between paychecks.

“Being proactive, especially for those in more competitive industries, can lessen the downtime between positions if they are laid off or their position is eliminated,” he said.

In some cases, Queen said, the strategy prompts some to transition to a new company before any layoff announcements occur.

While “younger professionals may be more inclined to engage in career cushioning,” the practice is not limited to junior employees, Joe Galvin, chief research officer with Vistage in Stamford, Connecticut, told Fox Business.

According to Galvin, the trend is “a response to the evolving nature of employment dynamics.”

“With continued recession fears and a softening labor market heading into 2024, employees are increasingly concerned their company will conduct layoffs,” he said.

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