If you read my last post about whether or not you should leave your dream job, then I’m guessing you’re reading this because it didn’t work out. If you want to move on, don’t even think of quitting your job without an exit strategy. You’ve probably heard the expression, “Don’t burn any bridges.” I’d like to change that tired metaphor to a more modern, ecological variation: “Spread seeds for future reaping.” Read on for an exit strategy that will net you huge yields in the future.
Exit Strategy #1: Pull the Weeds
Your verbal or written resignation is a perfect opportunity to pull some weeds, i.e. clear the field of any negative feelings. Therefore, it’s crucial that you don’t put forth any negative energy. The goal of this exit strategy is to remain hirable by anyone at that company. Here’s why: Your present superior/co-worker could conceivably end up at your new workplace or at another company you want to join. Most industries, no matter how large, are really quite small as people usually move laterally within them. So turn negatives into positives like this:
“I’d like to really focus on the specific areas that excite me the most about this field. I wish to gain experience that broadens my skill set and this new path gives me the opportunity to do that and really hone those skills.”
The first part of the sentence, “focus…specific areas” puts a positive spin on the fact that this job didn’t deliver what you wanted. Instead, you’re telling them that the job gave you insight into what you wanted.
” I wish to gain experience that broadens…” This is a positive way to say you are open to change and may want to come back to this job one day, because again, it’s not the job’s fault.
“…really hone those skills…” This is the clincher. You’re essentially saying that your skills will deepen when you leave, increasing your value.
Exit Strategy #2: Prep the Soil
Now it’s time to fix it so that everyone you leave behind has fond memories of you. Since you’re leaving anyway, it’s not going to cost you anything to be extra conciliatory. During the two weeks that you’ve presumably given notice, the rules are:
- Work harder than you ever have. Stay late. Tie up loose ends. Make spreadsheets. Close deals. Clean up your database.
- If you’re training someone, be very helpful, complimentary to your superiors and positive about the company. The new hire is not your friend or confidant, so don’t vent to them no matter how much they pry.
- Ask your superiors for advice about your new position. Be open to suggestions and take notes.
- Bring bagels in once or twice, leaving them anonymously in the break room.
Exit Strategy #3: Sow the Seeds in a Subtle Way
Time to casually drop those seeds when nobody is looking. As you leave, shake hands with as many people as you can and say:
“I really enjoyed working with you and hope we get a chance to work together again one day. Let’s stay connected on LinkedIn.”
Also, if your new company is not directly competitive with your old company but in the same industry, then make attempts to link the two. For example, if your old company sponsors a yearly charity event, say something like:
“I really enjoyed/looked forward to that event, as it’s a good cause. Maybe I can talk my new company into participating?”
Quitting a job without an exit strategy is a huge mistake. Forget about burning bridges and be a little more calculating. Sow the seeds for future opportunities by leaving on a positive note, making them all sad to see you go. Be helpful and open to your past employer and co-workers even after you leave by staying engaged with them on social media. This is a surefire way to broaden your network and guarantee future success!