Isn’t it exciting? Even as a first time or repeat professional, starting a new job is exhilarating and can be scary too. In the midst of these emotions, most people forget that a job is a contract, and beyond the salary and money you take home every month, it is a two-way relationship that is for a finite period of time. So, what’s your exit plan?
Yes — you heard right. What is your exit plan? It should be clear before you go in. Before I go into this, I have a few disclaimers. I didn’t start thinking like this until about 3-5 years ago. I’m not sure why exactly but during my journey, the obvious became clear to me. Employer-employee relationships are a two-way street, and though the default is that employers have way more leverage, employees who care about their personal and professional growth must view employments as ways to both give and take - and not just taking money home every month.
Employers first decide what they need, before they find who will fit the role. It is quite clear it is isn’t at all personal.
Employers first decide what they need, before they find who will fit the role. It is quite clear it is isn’t at all personal. They decide what the business needs, articulate it into a job profile, search for that role, and compensate someone to fill it. This is the exact process employees themselves should adopt when thinking about their own professional goals.
To put this into sufficient context, it is first helpful for every single person to have a general idea of where they would like to be professionally, say 5-10 years from now. Yes, it's hard to see that far in detail, and that’s why your vision doesn’t have to be that specific. It could be a vague idea. For example, some are clear about the fact that they want to be running their own business, and others maybe want to be a manager of a large team, or a partner at a company.
This general idea is helpful, because this image is the true north to which you can extrapolate the skills you need, and the types of experience you need to build those skills to reach where you want to go. When these are established to some degree, then you can decide which organizations give you this experience and what purpose they serve in the context of your goal.
Do you see how radically different that approach is to the conventional views on a job? When you begin to think this way, something shifts. A few things happen:
1. You’re Very Strategic About Job Hunting
You begin to view jobs differently. Their value is only clear in the context of your long-term plan. You are very clear on your “why”, and this spills into the quality of your work. You don’t jump into just any job. You are able to clearly evaluate if this job presents an opportunity for you to build the skills you need to reach where you want to go. It immediately becomes a long term play and in time, it shows.
2. You’re a High Performer
When your “why” is clear and driven by something intrinsic, you are motivated to perform. It isn’t even about the job, it's about what you are learning, getting, and how it improves you. Most people who are clear on why they are at a job are ridiculously high performers, and are innovative beyond what is expected — which is an added advantage.
3. You Are Clear on When It’s Time to Leave a Job
When you have a clear purpose to why you took a job, you are clear on when your time is done; unless any other issues come up. Once you near the end of hitting your goals while at a job, it is time to move on to the next goal in line with your plan. I quite like this approach because it’s informed and deliberate.
Having this clarity is very instrumental to how you view employee-employer relationships and can make the difference between people who are focused, and people who are swayed by every other new shiny job and in the end, have no congruence on what those jobs meant in the context of their professional development; they end up a little confused, trying to fit the current experience into something they want, limiting their future options.
It's clear that not everyone will have this information early enough to chart that perfect path through employment to gain skills that help them reach where they want to go. Also, sometimes people take jobs just to survive. I get that.
But I’ll say this, it's not supposed to be perfect. Plans change also, all the time. But it is important to at least have them, work towards them, and be deliberate about curating your experience to your long-term benefit because no one will do that for you. Employers are very strategic about their business. It is in your interest and theirs to be strategic about your long-term career as well.
So, I will ask again, what is your exit plan?
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