The relationship technique that’s made its way into the workplace, and how it could bring you some comfort in uncertain times

If there’s one thing we all want from work, it’s a sense of security. If you’ve experienced a ripple of unease within your organisation as the cost of living crisis dominates headlines, you’re not the only one. Global HR experts at Remote recently shared that nearly half (44%) of employees are worried about job security. No one wants to sit in that discomfort for long, so with the threat of a global recession looming, you might be tempted to try ‘career cushioning’ as a way to future-proof your employment status.

What is career cushioning?

The term has been adapted from the world of dating, where people in relationships have been known to sneakily scout out potential love interests to serve as a back-up plan. Romantically speaking, it’s not the classiest of moves. But in an employment context, career cushioning is designed to break your fall should you find yourself facing job cuts. Simply put, career cushioning is all about preparing to change jobs without actually leaving your current employer, putting you in the best possible position for job-hunting if or when the time comes.

Even if you consider yourself somehow immune in your current role, there is always that sense of unease that the rug could be pulled from under you if the economy takes a hit. Let’s be honest, nothing in this life is certain, so setting up your career cushion is a way to keep your options open without jumping ship unnecessarily.

Consider purpose

Working within an organisation whose purpose aligns with yours has the potential to boost your motivation, which could theoretically make your job more secure as you perform at your best. Having a sense of purpose in life has been said to promote healthy behaviour habits, improve sleep, help with depression, and even have a positive impact on physical health. Try out the following journal prompts below to do some self-investigation, and get one step closer to finding your calling.

Spend some time reflecting on these points to connect with your passions. If you can’t seem to pinpoint your ‘thing’, talk to friends and family to see what they have observed. Sometimes outsiders can pick up on our habits and interests more accurately and, if nothing else, it might give you some food for thought.

  • If you won the lottery, what job would you do just for enjoyment?
  • Are you known in your friendship group for being fanatical about something in particular?
  • What similar themes crop up in the books you read or podcasts you listen to?
  • What activity makes you feel like the best version of yourself?
  • How do you want your work to impact others?

Define your values

Thinking about the long-term shape of your career can be daunting, but I encourage you to imagine a world where employment ticks all the boxes you require, exceeds your expectations, and offers a sense of fulfilment. Start by reflecting on your work history: was it the paid sick leave at a particular job that helped your wellbeing? Perhaps it was the social aspect of being in an office that put a smile on your face? At the other end of the spectrum, maybe being in a management role pays well, but you’d prefer to make money in a creative industry. Make a list of exactly what you want your work future to look and feel like, and keep this in mind as you create your career cushion.

Upgrade your skills

Based on the list you just formulated, pinpoint any gaps in your training that need attention. Do a little research into what employers are looking for, and find ways to brush up your skills while in your current role. You could take a younger staff member under your wing and add mentorship to your CV, or seek permission to write an internal newsletter to show off your communication skills. For more technical training such as web development, software and graphic design, check out your local college or search the Open University website. Your employer may already offer free access to an online learning platform such as Udemy for Business, so make use of these courses if they’re available.

Update your CV

There’s nothing worse than seeing a job vacancy with a same-day deadline, and then rewriting your CV and social media bios in a panic. Take advantage of the time you have at your disposal and update your job history, skills, and personal statement with precision. Make sure to include your current job title in the heading, and pepper relevant soft and hard skills throughout, as many employers now use software to filter out applicants who don’t meet all the specifications.

Utilise LinkedIn

According to LinkedIn’s website, eight people are hired on the platform every minute. Set aside some time to update your profile, and engage with people in your industry. Keeping your profile up to date, and talking to peers, allows you to showcase your skills and experience, while building authority in your chosen field. Instead of ‘liking’ someone’s post, genuinely respond with insights from your own lived experience, point them in the direction of another interesting article, or tag others who may have something unique to add to the conversation.

Above all, rest in the knowledge that having an unpredictable career path needn’t be a bad thing. Open yourself up to the possibility that although looking for a new job can be tiresome, doing this prep work ahead of time will stand you in good stead to thrive in the future, no matter what direction you take.


Fiona Thomas is a freelance writer and author, whose new book, ‘Work It Out’ is available now (Welbeck Balance, £9.99). Visit for more.