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Career cushioning or career branding? The advantages of being on the job lookout.

In today's market, lifetime jobs seem to be a thing of the past.

According to Statistics from the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau, most people will have about 10 to 15 different jobs during their career. About 52% of employees are thinking of changing jobs within 2023.

And a median tenure for workers between 25 and 34 is approximately 3 years.

For a lot of workers out there, changing jobs frequently is the most effective way to build their expertise, reputation and desired compensation. In order for this plan to work in the long-term, you would need to be on a permanent job hunt - updating your LinkedIn profile, applying to selected jobs, going through interviews and updating your professional network.

But there is another reason why a lot of people choose to always be on the lookout for their next role and that is safety. In a volatile market such as the current one, it's difficult to predict changes that could directly affect your job and leave you short of viable income. Hence how the term - and practice of -"career cushioning" was created.

As a career coach and seasoned HR professional, I see nothing wrong with being proactive about your career and job security. I have handled my fair share of internal reorganizations, lay-offs and burnouts and thus, making sure that you keep your options open may not be such a bad idea.

However, I would argue that putting effort on "career branding" rather than "career cushioning" is actually more productive. Career branding focuses on your overall profile and reputation and helps you promote your progress and growth as you level up in your career trajectory. It includes your values, behaviors, skills, talents, qualifications, as well as your online presence (which is how your brand establishes its presence in the market.

Career branding is the evolution of your personal brand, it's the strategy you follow for achieving your long-term career goals and the investment you make in your career's future.

What are the advantages of career branding?

  1. Celebrating development & accomplishments: It's often hard to take a moment to really appreciate your hard work and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the shoulder. But because career branding is all about promoting your achievements and learnings along the way, it provides a fantastic opportunity for celebration that you might have missed otherwise.

  2. Taking the pulse of your current situation: Do you find it hard to give a direct answer to the seemingly simple question "Am I happy"? The daily grind can keep you so busy that opportunities for deep self-reflection may be rare. In order to keep developing your career in a sustainable way, you need to be aware of the things that you are looking to change, improve or get rid of along the way.

  3. Benchmarking your value in the market: Are your skills updated according to the latest market trends and demands? Are other peers in your field gaining qualifications that you should be considering as well? Are you being compensated according to market standards? Benchmarking is effective comparison and it helps you estimate your current market value versus your desired one.

  4. Maintaining meaningful connections: A big part of promoting your brand is through interactions with others - these interactions lead to connections which enhance your reputation. However, although useful connections may help with your career building, meaningful connections may present you with opportunities for mentoring, learning, receiving support, inspiration and maybe even nourishing friendship.

Regardless of how satisfied you are at your current job, creating a strategy for long-term career development is always a wise investment of your time. Even simple things such as keeping your LinkedIn profile updated or catching up with old colleagues can have a positive effect on your future and present you with the right opportunities.


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