Why do you need an exit plan if you have a position that you are happy with? Without an exit plan, you are at the mercy of your circumstances. Anything could happen and you could be caught unprepared. Your employer is obligated to put the health and wellness of the company as its #1 priority. If, for any reason, they needed to lay you off to ensure the well being of the company, they would do in an instant. You are obligated to have your health and wellness as your #1 priority. In order to be sure that you are being paid fairly, to keep your connections in the field, and to be prepared should anything happen with your position or your company — YOU SHOULD consider having an exit plan.
Having an exit plan will help you do the right thing when work gets stressful. You may feel pressure to not leave an hour early for your son’s soccer game. If you have an exit plan, you feel secure in meeting family obligations and knowing that all will be fine. It is your ace in the hole.
Step 1: Take the Time and Effort to Research an Exit Plan
The beginning step is to take the time and effort to research an exit plan. The Internet makes this easier than it has ever been before. You have probably heard of Monster or Career Builder. These sites and many more allow you to post your resume, search for open jobs and apply online. It will give you an idea of the number of open positions in your area by title. A little research around the site will raise your awareness of the job market. If you are already in the over $100,000 salary range (good for you), then go to The Ladders website, which lists jobs that pay over $100k. Also, updating your LinkedIn profile can raise awareness of your capabilities and you will get a recruiter or two to call you if you have a fabulous profile.
Step 2: Consider Your Options
The next step is to consider your options. What would you do if you were laid off tomorrow? What steps would you take? Are there contacts that you know in the industry that you would immediately call? Call them, tell them that you want to keep up with them and see how they are doing. You should stay in contact with these sources regardless of your current situation. Have you been staying at home or out of work for a few years? It doesn’t matter, you still need to be having coffee occasionally with people you know in the industry. You never know what life will send your way. Be prepared for the unexpected, and then, when surprises hit, they won’t truly be unexpected, will they? You actually could be caught without warning at some point in your career. Considering your options ahead of time ensures that you are prepared, and ready if anything does occur. It also makes you a much better negotiator. Knowing your ‘out’ option will help you fight harder for your worth while you are employed.
Step 3: Go Window Shopping
The third step is to window shop. You’ve done it before, surely you know how. I know that you have gone by a store and saw something that you liked. You’ve tried something on that you had no intention of buying. I’m requesting that you interview, send out a few resumes, and put your feelers out. Work on getting an offer of employment at least once every 18 months. Start with your contacts in the field. If you don’t have contacts in the field, make some. Strategically invite someone to coffee or lunch that you met at a recent educational event or trade show. If you aren’t attending any educational events in your career path, than GO-LEARN-MEET. At least twice a year participate in educational seminars or events.
Step 4: Be Prepared to Use the Ammunition
The next step is to be prepared to use the ammunition. Should you get a pink slip, an unwanted transfer to another city or put on a team that you greatly dislike, consider taking that other offer. You are the driver of your career. You own the path and the direction that it will take.
You can avoid some struggles by keeping your eyes on the horizon and preparing an exit plan. Hopefully, you will not be caught off guard. But you just might get an offer that you can’t refuse while you are working your way through the process.
by Bethany Williams