How to Design an Exit Strategy
Jobs are like relationships: sometimes the amount of effort you put in is too much for what you’re getting back. We’re constantly told to “hold on to what you’ve got” in uncertain times, but what do you do when you’re sure you need to get out?
It’s important to approach your exit strategy with a deft hand. You can’t let the world know you’re unhappy and looking, but you need help to land your next role. Here’s how to maximize your chances of getting a new role and minimize your chances of getting caught looking
Give Yourself a Timeline
The difference between getting projects done is often whether there are hard deadlines. It is important to give yourself some milestones to completing what should now be a very high priority project for you. Giving yourself a timeline can also help you begin to build in buffer zones into your schedule so that you can take time out for off-site meetings, coffees, or phone calls with recruiters, or potential employers or future clients. You can also look ahead for time conflicts and plan around your work projects.
Build Out Soft Spots in Your Resume
While you’ve been at your current job, you may have been honing some skills, but not necessarily ones you will need at other roles or companies. It’s important to search for the skill set being requested for jobs you’re interested in and make sure you meet those requirements. If you don’t, you should devise a plan to upgrade your skills or get some practice by trying those skills out for a freelance client.
Contact Recruiters Quietly & Update Your Profiles Online
Before you begin: make sure you are aware of all the access levels of your online profiles and don’t make them 100% public. Internal HR people sometimes check employment websites for updated profiles with their company in them to know whether someone is a flight risk.
To stay stealth, you can locate recruiters and send your resume to them directly. This will help you keep your intentions under the radar and you might be able to be considered for roles that will never be posted on a company’s job board.
Make sure you disclose the confidential nature of your situation to these recruiters so they can help keep your search a secret.
Leverage Your Networks for Leads
The best way to reach out to your network for leads on roles is to be very selective. Consider the friends and acquaintances your connections might have before you tell them you are looking. People talk, and people make mistakes. Be careful. Reach out to your network asking for a face-to-face meeting or otherwise keep your communication offline. Tell a select group of people you trust you are looking and ask them for their help.
Apply Selectively- The World is Small
When you’re looking to get out, it’s very easy to get carried away and attempt a “spray and pray” approach. Resist the urge to put yourself up for roles that you don’t really want or aren’t a good fit for. You’re wasting time that could be better spent building up your skills and searching for the correct role. Wanting to leave is a powerful motivator, but don’t lose focus on why you’re leaving. Find a role you’d want to take.
Exit Strategy Don’ts:
Don’t do research or reach out to connections at work- assume that any communication you do or browsing on company computers is being monitored. The same holds true for company phones.
Don’t discuss your disappointment with colleagues. It’s important to not voice your dissatisfaction lest you invite questions from your team or boss.
Don’t suddenly relax your work ethic. If you begin to “coast,” it will be noticed, and that could ruin your chances of leaving on good terms.
Don’t talk about your search or frustrations on Social Media. Not only is it not a great topic of conversation, you never know who might stumble upon this information. Protect yourself.
Finding a role that’s a better fit is easier when you have an exit strategy. Careful planning and discreet job search practices can make all the difference in how quickly and easily you’re in your new role.