The last two years have been a rollercoaster for many people. Not only has a global pandemic changed our daily routines, but for many, it’s transformed their careers. Perhaps you realized how much you loved — or ahem, hated — working remotely. Or, your company had several rounds of layoffs, and now you’re doing the work of three people without an uptick in your salary. Maybe you’re simply experiencing burnout in your current industry, and you’re ready to switch gears. Whatever makes you consider quitting your job, it’s best to have an exit strategy in mind. This not only ensures you will set yourself up for success, but it takes some of the pressure off of the application process, too.
Here, career gurus share their best tips on how to prep to say ‘buh-bye’ to your employer next year:
Audit your current job.
Whether you’re passionate about what you do or see a job as a way to make money, we all have good days and bad days. And though it’s tempting to hand in a pink slip at the first sign of conflict, it’s more important, to be honest about your true experience. That’s why step one should be a critical audit of what you like and don’t like about your current job, says Olga Etkina, the founder of Black Swan Careers.
“The last thing you want to do is leave a job you hate, only to end up at a company that’s eerily similar in culture and problems,” she says. “Take the time to truly audit your current situation and find the true cause of your unhappiness or unfulfillment.” She recommends answering a few key questions, like:
- Are you unhappy with your company culture? Your manager?
- Is it the scope of your role and daily work?
- Are you seeing problematic behavior, or are you just bored?
This will help you reverse engineer your interview process by asking focused questions on topics that are important to you and will make you more alert to possible red flags,” she says.
Consult with a career coach.
If you’ve been in the same line of work for years (or decades!), it can be tricky to know what it’s like to apply for gigs. With an ever-changing climate, it can be beneficial to seek the assistance of a career coach who can help you navigate new waters. “They can assist you in getting materials updated and optimized for a competitive advantage in the job search,” says career expert Wendi Weiner. “They also help you brush up your interviewing skills and review current trends in your industry sector, so you go with eyes wide open into the new career path.”
Update your personal branding.
To prepare for the many many emails and applications you’ll be sending out, Etkina recommends taking time to update your resume and LinkedIn page to illustrate your impact. As she puts it, the job market is more competitive than ever, and if you don’t have an immediate network to tap into, you want to make sure you present the best version of your skills and impact.
“Take the time to focus on making your resume as data-driven as possible. Did you increase revenues by 35 percent? Great! It’s no longer enough to just write what you do and hope for the best,” she says. “Companies want to see the impact you’ve had and replicable strategies for success.”
And it’s the same method for your Linkedin page. It should be up to date, read clearly, and convey who you are and what you have achieved. “Think of a product or personal brand you absolutely love. Why do you love this brand? What has it conveyed to you that makes you trust? Use that same logic when creating your resume, LinkedIn, and cover letters,” she says.
Lean into learning about your dream companies.
We all have companies we are obsessed with, and we would consider it an honor to call our employer. If you’re going to work your way into your dream role, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and immerse yourself in everything you can learn about them, says Bert E. Miller, a career expert and the CEO of Protis Global and MRI Network. “Company leaders like intrinsically motivated people that have a thirst for continuous learning in their craft. If necessary, take courses to gain further the skills they require,” he continues. “Your move should absolutely be planned with intentional targets.”
Grow your influence.
While Etkina says, you don’t need to be a social media influencer, growing your LinkedIn network will make finding a job increasingly easier. “While networking may seem intimidating, it’s something not enough people are taking advantage of,” she says. “In fact, effectively building a LinkedIn network is the single best way to get hired for a job without ever having to apply.”
How so? You’re building meaningful connections with decision-makers, maximizing your job search results, and keeping you top of mind when opportunities arise.
Make a financial plan.
The not-so-rosy news of quitting your job is that, well, you’ll have to pay for your living expenses before you begin your new one. Weiner recommends having three to six months in savings and a budget to keep you afloat. “Remember, your expenses may shift, such as in the case of needing short-term health insurance until the 90-day wait period is over. Also, review your current company benefits and have those handy to do comparisons to the benefits offered in the new role,” she says.
Weiner also says you may even want to take your paid time off before it expires, and you should read through your current employee handbook to determine if you can cash out any of your PTO once you give notice of your exit. “You may even want to consider making last-minute doctors’ appointments to ensure those are also taken care of, such as your 6-month dental appointment or annual physical before making your exit,” she adds.