Always have an exit plan. No matter what you do for a career, or how long you plan on staying there, you can lose your job at any time. Once you find out you’re losing your job, the people above you have already known and are prepared. You may not always have a chance to back stuff up and scrounge through the company servers to put together lists of all the great work you did. What good is building a database utilized throughout the entire company if you don’t have proof? There are four important things to do before you leave your job, and most of it should already be done, just in case.
1 – Update Your Resume
Once you get a job, it’s easy to file away your resume, where it’ll sit untouched until you need it again to find a new job. The problem with this line of thinking is your current job won’t be on your resume. The longer you stay at your current job, the more difficult it gets to update – you’ll have to add so many projects, job titles, etc. Figuring all of this out after you leave your job is difficult.
Instead, always keep your resume updated. Each time you receive a promotion, raise, or have a change in your contact information, update your resume. This will give you one less thing to worry about if you do end up changing jobs, which is already a very stressful situation. Your work history isn’t the only information on your resume; you need references, education history, and job skills. Add them as you gain them to ensure you know your resume inside and out.
2 – Save Your Contacts
Remember Jerry Maguire? The first thing he did after losing his job was contact everyone on his contact list. Don’t underestimate the power of a contact list. You may not have left your job voluntarily, and even if you did, who knows how your next job will end. Keeping your list of contacts current gives you an extra path to success in your career prospects.
When you leave the company, even if it’s on good terms, your employer may not be keen to allow you access to their contact lists anymore. A business is always a business. You may think you can memorize people’s email addresses and phone numbers, but if you’re off by even one character, that contact may be forever lost. Even if you don’t plan to return to the industry, it’s possible you’ll run into that person again in a completely different industry. Whether or not you burn a bridge doesn’t matter if you can’t find the bridge.
3 – Keep It Classy
No matter what reason you’re leaving your job, be professional about it. Follow the correct procedures of notifying your boss. They may make a counteroffer that entices you to remain at your current job instead of moving on to a new one. You’ll also open up the possibility of using your boss for a reference. It’s always nice to have a good recommendation from your former boss when looking for a new one. Think about how you act in relationships – you don’t want to badmouth your ex to your current partner. You may be the nicest person in the world, but if everyone in your past is upset with you, why would anyone new want to get involved with you?
Jobs work the same way. People are always going to be interested in your past – it’s the best way to judge your likely future outcome. If you left your last job in a way that makes you no longer eligible for rehire, it’s going to come back to bite you in the ass sooner rather than later. A bad work recommendation is like an STD; whether or not the symptoms are flaring up, it’s still lurking just under the surface, waiting to ruin a perfectly good experience. Leave your workplace wanting more, and you’ll resolve a lot of problems in your job hunt before they even start.
4 – Have a Plan
Leaving your job is a major life step, even if it’s just a car wash or fast food joint you’re working at part time during school. You’re cutting off a source of income – a resource that constantly replenishes your finances. It’s like breaking off a romantic relationship, and you’re going to feel the emotional void in one way or another. There’s a level of stress that naturally comes with change, and a career change is a big one. Having a plan lessens the opportunities for stress.
If you already have another job, plan the commute and any other changes it may make to your daily life so you’re not caught off-guard. You don’t have the luxury of planning for involuntary job changes, as they tend to happen spur of the moment. In this case, remain calm. You don’t have to plan your entire life out. Start with today – close your eyes, breathe, and decide on where you want to go to dinner. Money is tight, and things are about to get crazy. You may need a drink to. Everything else can wait until tomorrow…