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Career Cushioning Spikes as More Than Two-Thirds of Workers are Actively Seeking New Jobs

Top career-cushioning tactics include monitoring the jobs market, updating CV, and networking
Photo: Shutterstock

Amid the rapidly evolving job market, a staggering 68 percent of workers have taken proactive career-cushioning measures by embarking on the search for new career opportunities.

Career cushioning—the process of being proactive about your career prospects to soften the blow should anything go wrong with your current job—is a phenomenon that recruitment firm Robert Walters believes has grown in prominence in the face of the ongoing economic slowdown across the U.S.

According to a poll of 2,500 white-collar professionals, the primary drivers causing workers to career cushion are low job satisfaction (48 percent), lack of job security (28 percent), and internal changes within their business (16 percent)—interestingly, only 8 percent attributed their career cushioning to a turbulent economy.

“Professionals are acutely aware of the difficulties organizations are facing due to challenging economic conditions, but interestingly it seems the way these companies are dealing with these challenges is what is affecting employees most,” says Peter Milne, managing director of Robert Walters North America. “Consequently, nearly half of professionals are engaging in ‘career cushioning’ as a proactive response to low job satisfaction, actively seeking roles that offer increased levels of fulfilment.”

Milne says that his advice for professionals who are experiencing low workplace satisfaction is to prepare for finding a new role sooner rather than later. “Start with some very simple steps such as updating your LinkedIn profile, signing up for job alerts, refreshing your CV, and, most importantly, being open to approaches from recruiters who can provide you with valuable insights about the jobs market in your region and industry.

When asked what type of tactics workers were taking to create a career cushion, actively applying for jobs (67 percent) and monitoring the jobs market (53 percent) came out on top.

Most common tactics for ‘career cushioning’
Applying for jobs67%
Monitoring job market54%
CV prep24%
Networking more20%
Upskilling and training17%
Adopting side-hustle10%
Working with career coach9%

A significant majority of professionals (68 percent) admitted that their perusal of the jobs market and self-assessment of their skills has led them to realize they are currently underpaid. In fact, less than a quarter of respondents expressed satisfaction with their current compensation, indicating that they believe their pay falls short of industry standards.

“Employers should not necessarily view the concept of career cushioning in a negative light,” says Milne. “In fact, it often leads to positive outcomes such as employees proactively enhancing their skills, displaying greater determination to succeed, and actively networking, thereby contributing more value to the organization. While employees who engage in career cushioning may not necessarily leave their current positions, it is crucial for employers to understand the importance of accurately benchmarking salaries to remain competitive in the current business landscape. Furthermore, employers should evaluate their overall employee benefits and offerings to ensure they are attractive and compelling to retain and attract top talent.”

About The Author

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures,, E! Online,, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.