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Career Cushioning: 42% of workers admit to preparing to look for another job

As Europe continues to hover around the recessionary danger zone, it seems professionals are increasingly embracing the concept of "career cushioning." This strategic approach involves taking proactive steps to prepare for potential job changes or market shifts, ensuring a sense of stability and security in one's career. A recent poll by international recruitment specialist Robert Walters sheds light on the strategies and perspectives professionals have adopted to create a ‘career cushion’ in case something goes wrong with their current job. Özlem Simsek, managing director at Robert Walters, shares her insights.

Working on a ‘Career plan B’

While 55% of surveyed employees expressed a preference to stay where they are, the current turbulence in the economic market is clearly affecting workplace sentiment. No less than 42% of respondents have already taken steps to prepare to look for another job as a ‘just in case’ tactic.

Özlem Simsek: “In some sectors, workers are acutely aware of the difficulties organisations are facing due to challenging economic conditions."

"If professionals in these sectors are concerned, my advice would be to prepare for finding a new role sooner rather than later. It can’t hurt to have a plan B ready.”

Career cushioning tactics

When asked what type of tactics workers were taking to create a ‘career cushion’, one in three professionals admits having been monitoring the job market. With this approach, workers are making sure they’re staying informed about potential opportunities and the changes in the job market. Moreover, 30% of respondents have already been tidying up their CV, in order to be able to move quickly when an opportunity should arise. 

36% of surveyed professionals claim to have increased their networking efforts in the past six months due to the turbulent economic conditions. Networking indeed plays a crucial role in building professional relationships, expanding connections, and potentially accessing new job opportunities. Furthermore, one in five professionals have been working with a recruiter to help secure the future of their career. Özlem: “In addition to networking with peers and business leaders, it is indeed also important to be open to approaches from recruiters who can provide you with valuable insights about the jobs market in your region or industry. Therefore, it is advisable to connect with recruiters on Linkedin and to subscribe for job alerts.”

Upskilling is also proving to be a popular career cushioning tactic: almost one in four professionals (24%) is reviewing their skillset and taking additional training to upskill. This suggests that professionals are recognizing the importance of enhancing their skill sets to remain competitive and adaptable in the job market.

Lastly, 8% of professionals have adopted a side hustle as an alternative income stream or entrepreneurial venture.

The grass isn’t always greener

Interestingly, 20% of professionals admitted that their perusal of the jobs market and self-assessment of their skills has led them to discover their current employer pays better than the market average.

Özlem Simsek adds: “Career cushioning needn’t always be looked at as a negative by employers. In many cases it can lead to employees upskilling, being more determined to succeed or engaging in more networking - bringing greater value to the business. 

There is no guarantee that those who “career cushion” will leave. It’s an old adage but employees researching opportunities elsewhere can often help them realise that the grass isn’t always greener.”


More information

Download the digital Robert Walters salary survey tool today. Looking to hire talent for your team? Contact us or upload your vacancy.

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Özlem Simsek

Managing Director Belgium & Switzerland

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