Exit Strategy for Your Position

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Feb 05

You’ve decided it’s time to move on from your current position. What’s your exit strategy? How do you figure one out?

One of the key career management skills for Cubicle Warriors is knowing how long a position will last. With a little practice, of course, you can come pretty close to determining that it’s time to find something new, either inside or outside your current department or company.

The key question: How do you implement an Exit Strategy?

Most people go through a drill where they start to think about new positions and even applying for them. But, it’s not necessarily a plan, just some things that one does — often sporadically instead of consistently. Myself included.

Here’s how to create an exit strategy.

Before deciding it is time to leave

These are things that should be done consistently in your career management work. The purpose: to lay the groundwork for your move when you decide it’s time to move into a different position.

  1. Speak consistently to your manager about what the next logical position is for you to be taking. If you have a good relationship with your manager — and you have a good manager — you should be able to speak about the next position for you in your career in the company. Including your shared viewpoint on how long your current position will last. This may be within his or her department, a position within the division, or something else within the company. Managers have networks and they can help you find the next position. But, you need to share this type of information for them to help you.
  2. Continue to network. Continue to help other people in their needs, the hallmark of networking. You will find out about other positions through this networking.
  3. Continue to improve your skills. You can’t move unless you have the right skills for the next opportunity. Working on your skills is critical to finding the next position.
  4. Continue to perform in your job. If you are not performing when you decide the position is over, no one will hire you — inside the company or out — because you cannot show accomplishments in your current position.
  5. Continually update your resume and social networking applications. Accomplishments, accomplishments, accomplishments.

What to do when you decide to move on

When you’ve determined the time has come to start getting out of your position — including the lead time necessary to find a position in the current company/job market — it’s time to implement stronger measures.

  1. Begin to apply for internal positions. Even if your company requires your manager’s knowledge and/or approval of application to other internal positions, it’s time. If you’ve determined it’s time to move on, this will also have the effect of the manager trying to help place you — if your relationship is a good one.
  2. Begin posting to external job boards. Know the key ones to visit and post your resume. Little comes by the job boards, but every percentage counts.
  3. Let your network know you are looking for a new position. If you’ve done a good job with doing things for your network, your network will let you know about positions and opportunities.

The great fear I always had about letting people know I was looking for a new position in or out of my current organization was the possibility of retaliation for looking — managers thinking that since I was now looking I wouldn’t be good at taking on new initiatives or pulling favors for others because I was going to leave anyway.

Nothing was further from the truth for me — the world changes and given new opportunities influences my view of a position being done.

But, it’s a legitimate fear. There are simply too many stories of people getting screwed by their manager or their company when looking for a new position.

While your mileage (or kilometers…) may vary, there is a good point to be made about this fear: you’ve decided it’s time to leave your current position, one way or the other. If your management team and/or company is going to resort to pulling this sort of crap, it’s time to leave the company anyway, isn’t it?

My integrity is worth a lot more than succumbing to retaliation because I’m looking for a new position.

When it’s time to go, it’s time to go.

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.