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With the unusual job market we’ve been experiencing for years now, keeping an exit strategy in mind is a must. Do you have yours nailed down? If your exit strategy is dependent on hope and crossed fingers, it’s time to rethink things.

Ideally, you shouldn’t wait until signs of trouble to plan your next career move. At a minimum, when those signs appear, it’s time to move. In some industries, you may experience what’s known as a RPE – a “resume producing event.” It could come in the form of an intense company meeting, or other warning signs that your organization could be in trouble.

If you ignore these signs and wait, you become a sitting duck. You lose your power of negotiation because when you look for a new job, you have no choice but to find one. You’ve given up your leverage. Getting ahead of the game gives you increased negotiating power and the time to wait for the right opportunity.

Keep your resume up to date. You never know when the right opportunity could come along. Even if your job is great, wouldn’t you consider a job that offered twice the pay? You always want to be prepared because you never know what might happen. The other advantage is you don’t have to go back and remember important facts later. Keep track of them as they’re happening.

Participate in LinkedIn. If you only update your LinkedIn profile when you’re looking for a job, it’s a dead giveaway that something’s up. Keeping your LinkedIn profile continuously fresh can help to quiet suspicions.

Keep it quiet. It can be tempting to share that you’re looking for another job. Although you have good intentions, they can backfire. Worst case scenario, you can be walked out of the building when your news leaks. This takes your power away and reduces your timeline, so keep your lips sealed.

Stay connected with your old coworkers. When you start searching, you’ll need references from your previous employers. It’s important to keep in touch with your former managers, coworkers, and employees, so you’ll have a bank of folks to offer when it’s time to do a background check.

Taken inventory of your finances. If worst came to worst, would you be prepared to be unemployed for six months? For many job seekers, this timeline is a reality. Look closely at your finances to ensure you’ll be able to survive if you had to.

Leave on good terms. Give at least two weeks’ notice and keep your word. Think very carefully before you bash your boss in an exit interview. Put in your best work until your very last day.

Leaving can be a tough process. Many people look at changing jobs like a breakup or divorce. Do your best to be prepared, so you can walk toward a better situation rather than just running from a bad one. It will help you keep your peace of mind and it will give you negotiating power in your interview process.

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