When people take a position, they don’t think about the exit strategy. A big part of the exit strategy needs to be based on how long you think the position you are currently in will be good for you and how long the company thinks it is worthwhile keeping before big changes occur.
So before developing an exit strategy, you need to figure out how long the position is likely to last.
There are ways to evaluate this, once in the position — and it is all about assigning risk of change.
Financial strength of the company
If your company is doing well, there is less risk of management deciding things need changing. If you are Countrywide, change is more likely to happen.
Financial strength of your department
Is your department on budget and meeting growth goals? Less risk. Is your department missing on budget or goals? More likely to have changes take place and a higher risk.
Stated goals affecting positions
If your management team believes in outsourcing, your risk goes up. If a stated goal is to increase opportunities for employees, your risk of change goes up. A new policy of hiring contractors before permanent employees? Your risk of change goes up.
At one company I worked for, I never had the same manager for two consecutive annual review cycles. That’s not bad, but the risk of change goes up.
If the idea behind the position is new, there is more risk of change because the value of the position hasn’t been proven. If the position has been around for a couple of years, there is more likely to be less risk of change.
Position project orientation
Projects have defined end dates. The date may change, but the project will end. After two major corporate-wide projects I worked on at one company — as a permanent employee — I had to scramble to find another position in the company before each project ended or I would have been laid off. A great reward for all that “above and beyond” work associated with the successful projects, don’t you think?
Two year strategy for the department
You can usually interpret the department direction through the budget and stated goals for the budget year. If your position is live support of a product and the budget talks about increasing self-service for the project, you’re at a bigger risk than the people working on self-service.
This is not a perfect science, of course. But with some practice using your position and tracking a few other positions in your department, you’ll come surprisingly close to figuring out how long a position will last.