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Career Cushioning

Is your career recession-ready?

How career cushioning can help soften the blow from potential job loss

22 Dec 2022
Is your career recession-ready?

Alongside news of inflation, recession and layoffs, a new workplace trend called “career cushioning” has emerged as a response. The concept is quite simple – while you are still at your current position in a company, you are actively looking at other options, taking action and preparing yourself in the event you find it necessary to abandon ship. It’s about having backup options just in case you get laid off.

And many places have been laying people off – in Southeast Asia alone, tech layoffs have been increasing in companies like Carousell, Shopee and GoTo Group (merger between Gojek and Tokopedia), according to CNBC and Vulcan Post. The tech layoffs were reported as early as June 2022, as a result of the tech bubble burst arising from unsustainable growth by many tech companies after the pandemic of 2020.

Whether you work in the tech industry or not, the global work landscape has been affected in some way by current events, from the pandemic to the Russia-Ukraine War. In light of the predicted upcoming recession as a consequence of these events, you may be interested in “career cushioning” yourself. Here are some ways you can prepare yourself and protect your career.

1. Keep updated about your industry

Industry organisations may have newsletters that you can subscribe to, which can provide specific and updated information, as well as trade journals and magazines if you have access to them. You can also look into blogs, forums, and social media to check in on the general sentiment on the ground. If you have a mentor or like-minded colleagues, sharing and exchanging information would be very valuable in keeping abreast with the changes happening within and outside the company.

Every industry, from tech to healthcare, will be affected differently by the changes in the economy. By keeping updated with the developments and changes not just in your company but also the global industry, you can mentally prepare yourself for the implications and make more informed decisions on your next steps.


2. Improve your skills or pick up new ones

Evaluate your current skill set – are there any tools of the trade that you haven’t mastered, or how caught up are you with the latest version of that tool? Are there any other skills that you think would be helpful in a similar role outside of your company? Are there any gaps, or higher-order skills that would be useful to learn?

A more expansive skillset would give you an advantage if you’re looking to switch companies or careers. The more essential or niche your skills are, the more valuable you’ll be as an employee.

If you haven’t yet used your $500 SkillsFuture credits, consider browsing their wide range of courses now before the credits expire in December 2025.


3. Update your resume and brush up on your interview skills

If you can’t remember the last time you updated your resume and your LinkedIn profile, now would be a great time to do that. If you’ve picked up any new skills or clinched significant projects, highlight that in your resume as well as your interviews.

Speaking of interviews, when was the last time you went for a job interview? It might seem daunting, but it’s definitely something you can prepare for. Practise common interview questions and get used to talking about your accomplishments and skill sets. Apply to different job openings, even if you’re not actively looking to leave your role immediately. The more interviews you go for, the easier it will get.


4. Keep your options open

Don’t feel like you are stuck in any one industry, particularly if you hold very transferable skills such as project management or IT skills. Reach out to your network in person or on LinkedIn to get a feel for any opportunities that might be suitable for you with your background and skill set.

Some industries are more resistant to recessions than others, such as healthcare, education, and utilities. These are potential industries to look into if you are seeking more stability in the long run.


5. Fortify your personal finance

Keep one eye on your career, and the other on your personal finances. Making sure that your finances are in order in the event of a worst case scenario (i.e. an unexpected layoff without another job secured) can soften the blow while you get back on your feet.

Have more emergency cash on hand

During a recession, job opportunities tend to be more scarce, which means that there is a possibility you will be unemployed for longer. You may want to bolster your emergency savings so that it can last over 6 months or more. Assess which expenses can be cut back in your budget so that you can redirect the extra funds to savings.

Eliminate and manage existing debt

Before credit card interest rates soar any further, it’s a good idea to pay off your credit card bills in full and not to carry a balance. Mortgage rates are also predicted to increase this year, so you might want to reconsider refinancing your home loans and find a better option with lower interest rates.

If you have any big-ticket expenses that you’ve been planning, try to hold off on it especially if it involves taking out new loans, such as buying a new car. Your risk of job loss or a pay cut is higher during a recession, and you may find the extra loan repayments a stretch on your day to day expenses.

Your financial health is still within your power

While a global recession hardly inspires optimism, there is still a lot you can do to improve your financial position. Being mentally prepared, taking proactive steps for your career, and fortifying your finances are all within your control.

If you find yourself in need of professional advice, reach out to our Financial Representatives who can help you.

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