Career cushioning is the latest buzz term following the ‘Great Resignation’ and ‘Quiet Quitting’ and essentially it means creating a safety net around your career no matter your current situation.
‘Career cushioning’… it makes me think of having a trampoline that you can fall onto and bounce back up from – often higher than the starting point. It’s a relatively new term but is it really a new concept? In my mind, it’s a little like being the CEO of your career. Taking charge of your own future as much as possible by doing what you can to secure it.
Career cushioning can also be adjacent or parallel roles to your everyday job to benefit your future career, for example, being a NED (Non-Executive Director) or a Trustee, volunteering or offering pro-bono work. It could also be community or political work demonstrating social and /or ethical contribution.
With so much uncertainty in the air, it’s no wonder career cushioning has become a popular term. If you want to get started, here are some of the things that will help you to cushion your career.
Understand the skills of the future and what you can do to invest in yourself to grow. This includes self-reflection and taking the time to think about how you will apply things that you’re learning.
Learning includes listening to podcasts or tedtalks, it also includes reading relevant non-fiction literature or articles, attending conferences, training or workshops. Being open and willing to gain insight and hear different opinions is a great way to challenge your own thinking or belief and generates new ideas for you to develop in your own career.
Having a strong network is important in any role, it means you have people you can bounce ideas off and people will come to you to do the same. To build a strong network, start in listening mode to those around you, remain curious about what others are doing to understand what is going on in your industry or sector. Hear and learn from others how they have and continue to cushion their own career.
Networking should be a two-way interaction and not just for self-promotion. Of course, you might have a vested interest in keeping in touch with certain individuals, however, these relationships will only blossom if you can also provide a level of support to the other party – i.e. they trust you can do a good job so will recommend you OR, they will provide guidance knowing that you will support them when they come to you.
Discuss your strengths with others. Share with them what you believe you do well but also ask for where and how you can use your strengths more (or less). Ask for direct feedback on areas that you can improve or what you might need to do to get to that next level in your career.
Feedback should be from a variety of sources, peers, managers, your team. There will no doubt be some consistent themes on both your strength and growth.
Learn about what is going on in your sector and in your specialism. Keeping current in your area of expertise will always benefit you and your organisation. From skills shortages to new technologies to disruptive operating models, whatever it is make it your business to understand how it could impact on you and your future.
Discover what is relevant and who the key influencers are so that you can form your own opinions and potentially influence others.
Whether you are a manager of people or not, there is always an opportunity to share your knowledge and promote the growth of others. There are multiple ways to do this, such as a social media presence, commenting on or creating your own articles for others to learn from you. You might volunteer or mentor others at your work to support them to develop their skills.
What is evident, it doesn’t matter what stage of your career you are at, you can always put some building blocks in place to ensure if you do have to jump on that trampoline you can bounce higher than where you started and know that you have the safety net of landing on your feet!
If this resonates with you and you want some help getting started, do get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org for some individual coaching to help you further your own career.