A Robust Guide Into Career Cushioning

๐š†๐š‘๐šŠ๐š ๐š’๐šœ ๐™ฒ๐šŠ๐š›๐šŽ๐šŽ๐š› ๐™ฒ๐šž๐šœ๐š‘๐š’๐š˜๐š—๐š’๐š—๐š?

Career cushioning refers to the practice of building up a diverse set of skills, experiences, and connections in your career to give you a “cushion” or buffer against job loss or other career setbacks. It can involve things like continuing education, networking, building up a strong professional portfolio, and diversifying your work experience. The idea is to make yourself more competitive in the job market and better able to weather any storms that may come your way.

Ways to career cushion:
1. Job hunt with purpose and intention. Start by gaining confidence by researching the role, and investigating the industry, major players, products/offerings/services, and news. Learn the terminology and respective process impact in this new role. Understand the function your new role would play in the entire operations. Why is there an opening? What pain points do the hiring managers have because of the opening? The single best piece of advice for possessing confidence during an interview is to ensure you have all your project narratives in order and ready to share each success depending on the question, equip yourself with the company, competitor, and industry knowledge to help tie that expertise into a few of your answers, and finally understand why the job is open and what pain points that hiring manager is experiencing due to the vacant role. Get your stories down. Your narratives are vital and not only for the job but for your pay rate! Pay attention to the industry/competitors and companyโ€™s news, and the open role within the industry. The more knowledge and understanding of the value you present, stories to share of your accomplishments, and understanding of the role/company, the more confidence.

2. Find your why and attack your strategy to get there. First internalize, realize, and visualize. Try to identify your relevance in terms of value to a prospective employer, internalize on what your passions are and some transferable skills and accomplishments to relay to hiring managers, a solid resume and some email communication templates (or cover letter), and a lot of patience and willpower. A good rule of thumb for the job hunter seeking a new role in a new industry is to identify your transferable skills and portray those first on your LinkedIn profile and resume. Reverse engineer your career path from your ideal jobโ€™s description and see what you have and what needs up-skilling. Think the long game. Have a vision of your dream job. Think of your job drivers. What’s important to you? Time, money, benefits, 401(k), location, product offerings, company image, culture, values, progressive versus traditional setting, remote versus on-location, passionate project opportunities, etc. Each is different for each person. What motivates you? What’s your passion? What can you do that will make you happy in 2 weeks, 3 months, a year?

3. Upskill – Ah, skills. Also called โ€œbuzzwords,โ€ or a core competency section (or areas of expertise).ย  As a former recruiter, I understood how important skills were on a resume. I would look at my hiring manager’s open requisition and identify what “buzzwords” I could use on searches to help identify the right candidates in hopes one of them would fit into the opening. It also helps to use terms that resonate with the hiring managers. Things that live in breath in their space or department. It helps show your alignment with the use of as few letters and resume white space as possible. Where to find them? I would add “buzzwords” you can find from the job descriptions or LinkedIn endorsements section to filter into your resume to comply with the ATS.ย  You want to work on incorporating keywords and strategies for the digital application process. Not only do these applicant tracking systems (ATS) organize and sort applications, they can also be programmed to screen candidates based on what content you include in your resume.ย  At this point, recruiters can search submissions using keywords and phrases to identify candidates to advance through the hiring process.ย  It’s mandatory on your resume. You need to add this core competency section.ย  Continue to add to these as you acquire more experience that brings along new methodologies, leadership strategies or styles, and additional technical aptitude. And fill the resume up with hard skills! Leave the soft skills as adjectives in the summary section. That is the only place soft skills should be mentioned.

4. Update your resume. The resume needs to be logical first and foremost. If the reader is wrinkling their forehead, you’ve lost the initial battle. Use role/industry research as a way to spot relevant keywords (for the core competencies and summary sections), role responsibilities (for the experience section), and important transferable contributions (for the accomplishments section) for inclusion on your resume. Next, make sure it has optimized keywords, a summary that preaches your USP and value, quantifiable content (even if there are no metrics, but metrics are preferred), and a format/layout that adheres to ATS mandates. Think experience content as 3 buckets: relatable/transferrable, data-driven KPIs and unique wins such as awards, speeches or media appearances. The key to standing out among the competition is to ensure you set the tone in the first top half of the resume with what you offer, any key skills that speak to your abilities to transition into those new roles seamlessly, and any transferable skills and accomplishments that directly relate to this new role. How can you be the Tylenol to the hiring team’s pains, and how can you make their lives easier? Convey this in as little verbiage as possible.

5. Networking – Network and reach out to like-minded people or decision-makers and build a connection. Then schedule a time to continuously stay on top of this relationship cultivation. Join forums and answer questions or pose questions to start a dialogue. Anything and everything to continuously push ahead into thought leadership status. Knowing your value is key to cutting through the fluff and ensuring your content leaves a positive and memorable mark on these hiring managers and recruiters. Your goal is to understand the role and industry inside and out so that eventually you can become the subject matter expert. Find some new career job openings and the possible credentials you may need to better position yourself in this new role and find online institutions where you can acquire these credentials, and list them on your resume. Also, find membership groups and industry networking opportunities…this is a wonderful place to gather knowledge from industry pros who can help explain the nuances of your new role. Be realistic in what you can achieve. While taking chances and risks are a good thing, do not over-stretch yourself into a role you simply are not a fit for (yet). What industry do you want to live in, and in what role? Be specific in what you want, clarify it, write it down, consume knowledge of it, live it. Recruiters cannot help you if you nor they know what you want to do. Most people have skills and experience that can transfer nicely to another industry or job. The key is knowing how those skills reasonably transfer, and what sort of value they bring to the prospective employer. The challenge is that most are unsure of how their skills are exchangeable to other duties. If you’re an accomplished professional, it’s best to use actual methodologies, processes, skills, or technologies relating directly to the open job description and your experience.

6. Start a freelancing business – The key is finding a side gig that doesn’t feel like work. Something that isn’t overly time-consuming, but also worth the amount of income per successful project completion. Some ideas to consider are freelance writing, dropbox shipping or services/consultancy (which you would lean on your expertise to offer to clients needing it). You need to make sure that once you’ve got the idea in mind, research how to start and grow the side gig. Make sure to check all the legal, tax and accounting requirements, setup a website with what value you are offering and the services available for procurement, build a social presence at the most logical social media websites of where your targeted customers are, and be consistent with engagement. Always tweak your processes and possibly automate some (or hire a VA), so you can dedicate the right amount of time without making it feel like a 2nd job. An ideal goal to start out with is to first make up any expenses you’ve incurred from the startup, then focus on small goals. Maybe $1,000 a month…then up to $1,500, $2,000, etc.

7. Build a brand – You might not think about it, but your personal brand is already forming. What do people see when they Google you? Do they see the resume you put together? The cover letter you wrote? Or do they see all of the other information out there about you, like your social media profiles and what people say about you online? The answer is probably some combination of all three. But if you’re looking to get hired by a company that aligns with your values, it’s important to make sure that your brand is clear and aligned with those values. I can speak further on this topic if needed.

Chime in over here.

๐Ÿ’ฐ ๐—œ๐˜’๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ต๐—ผ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฑ๐—ฎ๐˜† ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ผ๐—ป, ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—œ’๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ ๐—š๐—ผ๐˜ ๐Ÿฎ๐Ÿฌ% ๐—ข๐—ณ๐—ณ ๐—”๐—น๐—น ๐— ๐—๐—ช ๐—–๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€’ ๐—ฃ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐˜๐˜€ ๐Ÿ’ฐ

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