Career Cushioning: How to Take Action Now

Hiring freezes and mass layoffs continue to rattle the job market. Yet, despite the unknowns, there are still ways to get ahead in your career.

A woman sits alone in a shared office space.
(Image credit: Getty Creative)

As hiring freezes continue and layoffs become a growing concern, getting ahead can mean staying ready by relying on your skills and experience to help you bounce back, should trouble strike. But is it truly possible to grow professionally while navigating a turbulent job market? Absolutely. Learning and adapting through the pandemic has taught us that we can persevere through challenging times, and that lesson is our guiding force through the unpredictable waters of 2023. 

The reality is, no one can predict how this year’s job market will fare, and from the looks of it, more change is on the horizon. Yet, despite the unknown, there are still ways to get ahead in your career right now. Here are the steps you can take to cushion your career, and grow professionally with the changing tides. 

Career Cushioning

From “quiet quitting” to “rage applying,” last year brought us a spectrum of job trends. But one in particular stood out: career cushioning. Essentially, this entails taking action to keep your options open, preparing for the future, and "cushioning" for whatever comes next in the economy and job market. Think of it like an insurance policy to set yourself up for success. And it’s something people are already doing: Workers have spent the past three years building themselves up, whether that means learning new skills, solidifying backup plans, pivoting careers, or starting their own side hustles. And if you aren’t already, you should, too. 

Start by asking yourself, “Where do I see my career going beyond the confines of my current job, and what steps can I take to get there?” From there, make a plan: Do you need to authentically grow your network? Should you take digital courses to add to your skillset? Where can you fill the gaps? The answers to these questions will help you begin career cushioning your way to success.

Pinpoint Your Priorities 

To plan ahead, you need to have a firm grasp of your top priorities. Salary, flexibility, and work-life balance top the market when it comes to today’s most popular wants. Before you have to make a quick decision, analyze your top three work needs and keep those front of mind as you navigate the next steps in your career journey.

And what professionals want today couldn’t be more clear: Two-thirds (61 percent) of U.S. workers are considering changing their current job in 2023 (yes, despite economic uncertainty!), mostly to increase salary and for better work/life balance. So if you’re looking to embrace this pandemic-born confidence and also focus on building a career with resilience, there are jobs available to do so—whether it be Diversity & Inclusion Manager or Sustainability Analyst—and the LinkedIn 2023 Jobs on the Rise list outlines the hottest jobs with staying power right now. 

Cash In On Your Skills Wallet

More than 40 percent of companies on LinkedIn globally rely on skills to search and identify job candidates. That’s precisely why it’s so important that you continue to build on your skills, and more. Learn and leverage transferable skills which you can use across a myriad of jobs. And then, don’t forget to highlight your skills—and how you used them—within specific examples on your online resume or portfolio and in hiring conversations to show employers what you can do and the value you can bring to their organization. 

If Trouble Hits, Trust in Your Strengths

Layoffs aren’t personal, and they’re not always predictable. If you’re impacted, remember that you have a wealth of experience and skills to help you bounce back.

Don’t be afraid to ask your network for help: On LinkedIn, members are increasingly activating the #OpenToWork tool, which either quietly signals to recruiters you’re open to new opportunities, or engages the broader LinkedIn community by adding an #OpentoWork photo frame.

Your current job is not the end of the road. Take every opportunity you can now to plan ahead and keep growing professionally so that when the time comes to make a change—planned or not—you have the best leverage and most confidence to do so. 

How to Prepare Your Career, Money, and Personal Brand for the Metaverse

woman wearing VR glasses in the metaverse

(Image credit: David Graham)

Your holistic guide to Web3, the Metaverse—and beyond.

Sprinkles Founder Candace Nelson's Secret Ingredient to Starting a Business

Candace Nelson

(Image credit: Candace Nelson)

Breakthrough ideas don’t have to be invented from scratch every time. They can also be reinvented. 

How to Start a Side Hustle in 7 Steps

A young woman works on her side hustle podcast from home.

(Image credit: Getty)

Side hustles allow you the opportunity to learn new skills and explore new career paths—all while building an extra income stream.

Catherine Fisher

Catherine Fisher is Vice President Integrated Data and Consumer Communications for LinkedIn. She is an established marketing and comms leader, and has worked for some of the most notable consumer brands with more than 20 years of experience. In her current role, she leads the consumer communications strategy for LinkedIn, and serves as the company spokeswoman educating and inspiring people on how to think about and grow their career.