What Is Career Cushioning — and Should You Be Doing It? | Savoir Flair
Careers & Finance
What Is Career Cushioning — and Should You Be Doing It?
by Lydia Medeiros 3-minute read November 28, 2022

First, there was 'The Great Resignation.' Then, there was 'Quiet Quitting.' Now, we have 'Career Cushioning.'


In a rapidly evolving work landscape, where even the most stable positions come with their share of volatility, the term "career cushioning" has emerged as a buzzing phrase. "Career cushioning" involves the art of maintaining connections, options, or even alternative employment opportunities while fully engaged in a current job. In essence, it serves as a contingency plan — a safety net — in case of unexpected professional setbacks.

The Concept Unveiled

"Career cushioning," much like its romantic counterpart "relationship cushioning," involves the art of maintaining connections, options, or even alternative employment opportunities while fully engaged in your current job. The idea is to have a contingency plan; a safety net, if you will, in case your current employment situation takes an unexpected dive.

In an unpredictable economy, where layoffs and restructuring are (unfortunately) as common as morning coffee, the concept doesn't seem far-fetched. A well-cushioned career could provide you with the insurance you need to bounce back swiftly.

So, how does one engage in career cushioning? Networking, for one, is paramount. Make it a point to reach out to old colleagues, foster new connections, and maintain a robust online professional profile. Side projects and freelance opportunities can also be a part of your career cushion, offering you both a creative outlet and a financial backstop.

The Pros and Cons

On the upside, career cushioning offers a tangible sense of security by providing a backup plan, which is especially valuable in an uncertain job market. This strategy also serves as a fertile ground for expanding your professional network, adding dimensions of depth and breadth to career opportunities. Engaging in side projects or other alternative opportunities can also enhance your skill set, making you more marketable in the long run.

However, there are downsides to consider. Focusing on multiple opportunities can divide attention and potentially compromise performance in a current role. Ethical questions also arise, especially if career cushioning conflicts with the terms of an existing employment contract, placing the individual in a precarious position. Additionally, juggling multiple commitments can lead to increased stress levels, affecting both mental and emotional well-being.

Should You Be Doing It?

The decision to engage in career cushioning should not be taken lightly. Factors to consider include current employment stability, long-term career goals, and personal capacity for managing additional commitments. Always ensure that any side engagements are compliant with the terms of your current employment contract.

The Savoir Flair Verdict

Career cushioning, while an intriguing strategy for navigating the uncertainties of today's professional world, comes with its set of risks and rewards. Like any investment, it demands due diligence, time, and attention. If you decide to go down this path, do so judiciously and with a keen eye on your long-term objectives. Your career isn't merely a series of jobs; it's a journey, a personal narrative that you alone are authoring. Make sure each chapter aligns seamlessly with the next, leading you to a fulfilling end.

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