Recently, I received a call from a former co-worker wanting career advice. He had just been informed that after ten years of employment, his services were no longer needed. He was in a total state of shock because he never saw it coming. To make matters worse, he hadn’t updated his resume in years, hadn’t interviewed for a job since he landed his previous role, and wasn’t a member of any professional organization. In a nutshell, he was between a rock and a hard place!
The fact is that too often many of us have not given much thought to how we “leave” a job. At some point, leaving is a transition we all have to make. The question isn’t “IF” you’ll leave, it’s WHEN and HOW? In my experience there are only two ways to leave an organization, “through the door” on your own terms, or “out the window” on theirs! Leaving on your own terms is less complicated. You retire, find a better opportunity at another organization, take a voluntary buy-out package, etc. Leaving on their terms is quite a different experience.
Sometimes you can see the handwriting on the wall: poor business results, your own poor performance, a pending merger, or some other event you have insight into. At other times, you never see it coming. And, without the benefit of planning, find yourself with only a meager severance package (if that).
The following are some tactics I suggest you consider when creating your Exit Strategy:
Create Your Network BEFORE You Need It: Often we neglect to plant the seeds of networking, but expect to reap a harvest. We don’t join professional organizations, we aren’t connected to social media networks like OppsPlace or LinkedIn, and we don’t take time to keep in touch with former colleagues. Also, it’s essential that you have relationships with key Executive Search firms. It’s important to develop and maintain a network in advance. It makes it easier when you need a reference, a referral, or advice. (Note: It can seem rude to reach out to someone you haven’t communicated with in years and ask a favor).
Interview At Least Once a Year: Most of us only interview for a new job reactively. A headhunter calls or you get laid off or become ticked off with your employer. As a result, without one of these triggers, you don’t interview and your interviewing skills become rusty. By proactively interviewing (inside or outside of your current organization) you develop and keep current your interviewing skills. I also suggest interviewing for roles a level above where you are to better understand what companies are looking for at that level, and to help create your personal development plan.
Keep Your Resume Current (and Relevant): Periodically review your resume to make updates and modifications that enhance your value and your brand. Your resume is what speaks “for” you and represents you, before you ever get considered for an opportunity. Also, remember that depending on the role you are applying for, you may need to tweak your resume to better highlight those skills that best match the position.
Be On the Lookout!: I can honestly say that most of the roles I’ve been selected for came as the result of looking for that next great opportunity. Attending job fairs, searching job sites, having key executive search firm relationships, and being a member of professional organizations have all served me well. Keep your eyes and ears open and you’ll be surprised at what opportunities you might find.
You can exit through the door, or the window. The choice is up to you!