Have you ever walked out on a job? Back in the early days of my career, I did. It was around 6 pm on a Friday, and my boss had just asked me to spend an extra three hours in the office with zero advance notice. This had been happening for months, and in that moment I finally reached my breaking point.
Related: Is It Time To Quit Your Job?
"I'm done," I said (although my heart was thumping so hard it's hard to know for sure). "You can do your own overtime."
And I was out!
The exhilaration of quitting lasted right up until the elevator hit ground floor, when I suddenly remembered that I had zero job prospects on the horizon, and far too many bills that needed paying.
Don't make the same mistake I did!
No matter how devalued and aggravated you feel at your current job, it is critical to plan your exit strategically. Because the best revenge isn't quitting; it's landing a far better job.
1. Timeline The Exit
Decide precisely how much longer you'll be staying at the job, and take all variables into account, including finances, job search times (be extremely generous with this one), and major projects that need to be wrapped up. This is your guiding compass from now on, and everything you do from this point onward should be tailored towards, "How much can I learn and accomplish between now and when I leave?"
2. Create An Accomplishments Journal
This is something everyone should be doing regularly, but it's especially important as you ramp up a job search. Every week, take a few minutes to jot down the major responsibilities you're managing, as well as the accomplishments you're accruing. Pay specific attention to quantifiable successes, as these can be used to give your resume a big boost!
3. Develop A Shortlist Of Target Jobs
If you don't know where you're going, it'll be nearly impossible to get there. Hop on LinkedIn and run searches for professionals who have roughly similar backgrounds to yourself, but are one or two steps up in seniority. What job titles do you see frequently popping up? Use this research to create a shortlist of 10-12 target job titles. Save the profiles of key competitors, and use the target job titles to find relevant job postings. All of this information can be used to "reverse engineer" a Resume and LinkedIn presence that is fully in-line with what you want to do next.
4. Stay Apprised Of What's Going On At Dream Companies
Think big! What are the best and brightest companies out there? Do some digging on LinkedIn and Glassdoor to create a list of places you'd love to work at. Now follow their company pages on LinkedIn. When a position opens up, you'll be informed of it directly on your LinkedIn newsfeed. Click on the company page, and check out the right-hand section of the page, where you'll see all connections who are somehow tied with the company. Send them quick messages letting them know you're interested in the open position, and asking to schedule a quick call to discuss further. This is a simple (and highly effective) way to get seen!
5. Repair And Rebuild Workplace Relationships
It is critical to leave on the best possible terms, and that means fixing broken relationships. Every day, focus on communicating appreciation to someone in the office. Take a moment to introduce yourself to the CEO if you never have, or go out of your way to lead a staff meeting. As relationships improve, send them requests to connect on LinkedIn and retain them as valuable parts of your network. Remember: your future is worth more than perceived slights, be the bigger person.
6. Get Perspective On Your Job
Once you've been at a job for a while, it gets very hard to see the big picture. However, seeing the big picture is essential to coming across effectively during job interviews. Diagram your work on a sheet of paper. Sketch out all inputs and outputs. How does what you do contribute to the company's overall goals? How does what you do relate to the types of positions you're seeking?
7. Perfect Your Career Platform
A big mistake job seekers make is assuming their resume, LinkedIn and other materials are "good enough" before leaving their job. Good enough just won't cut it in today's hyper-competitive market. Everything you put out must be branded correctly, precisely targeted, and impressive enough to make a recruiter or hiring manager go, "This is a Top 1% candidate." If it doesn't, hold off on leaving until it is (or hire a professional to get you to this level).
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a Work It Daily-approved expert.