Most of us have reached a point in our career where we just can’t go on with our current employer anymore. The relationship has run its course and it is time to move on to greener pastures. Formulating an exit strategy will help you to achieve your goals without burning your bridges.

Clearly there are many reasons why one may become disenchanted with their employer; the workplace culture has changed and your values are no longer aligned, you don’t support the direction the company is moving in or perhaps you don’t agree with strategies employed by your boss. Regardless of the cause behind you and your employer moving in two very different directions, you are feeling demotivated, unchallenged and unfulfilled. Sure you have the choice of quitting on the spot, but that achieves very little, for either party.

An exit strategy can be played out in partnership with your employer, but is generally actioned without others knowledge. If you do opt to approach your employer and work together on transitioning yourself out of the organisation, you may negotiate to take time off to seek alternate employment. You may additionally agree to terms that ‘buy’ out your employment contract at a mutually beneficial time, perhaps when that major project you are working on is complete and a your replacement employee is sufficiently trained to take the reins. Working in tandem with your employer to exit smoothly may also result in a job offer in an alternate department within the organisation. Switching gears may be the reinvigorating boost you need to revive your stalemate career with your current employer. If not, you ideally you want to exit with grace and professionalism and well before the relationship becomes unsalvageable.

Most employees who plan to leave their respective jobs do so without comment. Thus in planning your own exit strategy you need to consider your needs and establish a timeline that leads you to achieving your goal. Your agenda may encompass completing key work milestones, eliminating your personal debts and stockpiling funds, and updating your skills while building time within your work schedule to meet with recruiters and potential employers. Ultimately you want to transition smoothly between employment roles. Or perhaps you are seeking to establish your own business. If this is the case, you need to calculate how long it will take to set up your company, attain the necessary resources and build a client base. This exit strategy may take considerably longer to effect. Nevertheless, giving yourself a specific time to complete tasks before exiting will provide you with a clear direction and the motivation to accomplish your overall objective of a more satisfying career.

Of course you will need to update your credentials prior to approaching a potential employer and registering with recruitment agencies. You want to identify your top six ‘must have’ requirements for the roles you are targeting and highlight these within your revised CV. Polish up on your existing skill set and where able, acquire any new, highly sought skills that will make you a more desirable and well-rounded candidate. Your CV should also evidence your accomplishments and when asked, you need to be well versed in demonstrating where you were able to add value and make a difference.

While you’re working on your resume, consider your online profile. Fine tune your LinkedIn bio, gradually increasing your visibility. Ask colleagues and clients to make recommendations on your business profile. Confirm with your referees that you are in the market for a new role. Depending on your role and industry, you may wish to build a portfolio of your work and make a list of your contacts. Be mindful not to breach your contractual obligations and employer confidentiality in this regard. Use only your personal devices to search the job boards, maintain a strong work ethic and avoid discussing your plans with colleagues. Remove your personal items gradually from the office so as not to raise the alarm of your intended departure. The relationship may be over for you, but not for your employer.

How you resign can affect your future career opportunities so planning to leave your job requires a careful and considered plan. You need to honestly assess why your work environment has become toxic for you and why a job elsewhere would be a better fit for your career aspirations. Never lose sight of why you’re leaving, it will keep you motivated and focused on finding a position that you enjoy. Regardless of how you structure your exit strategy, ensure you time your termination before relationships become fractured. Time can heal wounds, but not a relationship that is irreparably damaged. And remember, we all reach this point in our career at one time or another, the key to happiness will be in your planning.

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