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A strategic approach to career cushioning

best practices career career advice job hunting job search job search tips Jan 03, 2023
Career cushioning means investing in yourself

Have you heard of career cushioning yet? If not, get ready for the next career trend of 2023.

 A carry-over term from the dating world, cushioning is the process of thinking about or actively testing the waters for a new relationship when the current one looks like it might be in danger of ending. In other words, it’s getting the fishing rod ready to find more fish in the sea.

 In the professional world,  career cushioning is taking steps to prepare for a possible job search because an economic downturn could impact your current employer.

 While many think that career cushioning is simply updating their resume, it actually entails a strategic approach to planning the next phase of your career.


Strategic steps for career cushioning

While dusting off the old resume is an obvious move to prepare for a job search, career cushioning also entails becoming more marketable in a competitive employment market. Therefore, the best first step is determining the requirements for your top-choice job – and making sure you have those qualifications.


  1. Evaluate current job postings.

First, pull up several different postings for your target job. Then, carefully review each job posting: do you have at least 70=80% of the qualifications? If specific skills are requested in multiple job postings, that is a drop-dead requirement. In other words, you MUST have this skill to be considered for the job.


  1. Add to your skill set.

Are you missing any of those key skills? Then, invest in some professional development courses to build up your talents and knowledge. Even online courses offered through LinkedIn or can show your willingness to invest in your career.


  1. Research the market.

Do you love tech or real estate? We are already seeing trends that an economic downturn will heavily impact these markets.

 Conduct some real market research to determine the growing sectors in your area. Applying your skills, education, and experience to a new field can often open new doors – IF that market is growing instead of shrinking.


Tactical steps for career cushioning

Now that we have a direction, updated skills, and viable markets, it is time to put your job search into action.


  1. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile.

While you obviously need to add current roles to your materials, don’t forget your actual job targets. Your resume should always be driven by the qualifications and keywords associated with your target job – which might be different than your current role. 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 instead.


  1. Reach out to your network.

When was the last time you spoke to a former boss or colleague? January is the perfect time to get in touch with your professional contacts. The trick? Don’t lead with your needs or desires. Instead, ask them about their lives. After all, networking is a two-way street, and nobody wants to feel like you are just buttering them up to ask for a job.


  1. Gather Recommendations.

One of the best ways to activate your network is to ask for a written Recommendation on LinkedIn. Not only do recruiters favor candidates with at least three written Recommendations, but it is also a great way to let your network know that you are getting ready to make a move.


  1. Write Recommendations for others.

Want to earn a lot of goodwill from your network? Write your top contacts a Recommendation first. Many are happy to reciprocate. Even better, pick up the phone and start a real conversation!


  1. Streamline your online job boards.

January is the start of the hiring season. As a result, you don’t want to miss the new job postings; however, you don’t need to spend hours poring over the latest ads daily. Instead, set up job alerts to feed you the latest job postings. Put time into perfecting your search terms to get the most relevant jobs without wasting your time on irrelevant or spam jobs.


  1. Tap into the hidden job market.

Only 20% of job seekers will find their job through an open job posting. So, where are these hidden jobs? When you learn to anticipate a company’s needs, you can actually pitch them for a job – even if they don’t have a current opening. The first step? Identify companies that catch your interest and follow them to catch all their latest news.



Long-term career cushioning plans

If you are serious about entering a new career, you must play the long game. Sure, the “right-now job” is an awesome goal, but if you want a career, consider some of these moves.


  1. Get involved in a professional association.

I LOVE associations. With these, you get a plethora of benefits, including networking with others in your specific industry, ongoing professional development, and even certifications. In addition, many associations are holding in-person conferences again, offering a rare chance to really connect with people face-to-face.


  1. Degrees and higher education.

Did your early research show that your target job requires a specific degree? Now is the time to look at options for long-term investment into a new degree to take your career to the next level.


Need help developing your career cushioning plan?

Our Down & Dirty Job Search program covers all these tactics – and much, much more! Check out the details here:


Want to see how your job search stacks up?

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Wondering how effective your job search is? Schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation with one of our career coaches, Donna Shannon or Dia Kline

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