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Career Cushioning: Over Two-Thirds of Workers Actively Pursuing New Job Prospects

  • 68% of professionals have already been looking for new jobs as a ‘just in case’ tactic
  • Almost half (48%) blame low job satisfaction as the reason for their current mindset
  • Top career cushioning tactics include monitoring the jobs market, tidying up CV, and networking


Amidst the rapidly evolving job market, a staggering 68% 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 US's ongoing economic slowdown.

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

Elliot Jackson, Director of Robert Walters Austin office, comments:

“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. 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."

“If professionals are experiencing low workplace satisfaction my advice would be to prepare for finding a new role sooner rather than later.”

“Start with some very simple steps such as updating your LinkedIn profile, sign up to job alerts, refresh your CV and most importantly be open to approaches from recruiters who can provide you with valuable insights about the jobs market in your region/industry”.

Cushioning tactics in full flow

When asked what type of tactics workers were taking to create a ‘career cushion’ – actively applying for jobs (67%) and monitoring the jobs market (54%) came out on top.

Most common tactics for ‘career cushioning’

Appling for jobs


Monitoring job market


CV prep


Networking more


Upskilling and training


Adopting side-hustle


Working with career coach



People recognizing their worth

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

Elliot adds: “Employers should not necessarily view the concept of "career cushioning" in a negative light. 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.”

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Contact Laura O'Flynn


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