Exit Strategy When Leaving a Job

Are You Thinking about an Exit Strategy to Leave Your Job?

Woman who has happily negotiated her exit strategy prepares to leave work on her last day.
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Need an exit strategy from your current job? On a collision course with your current workplace culture. How about a boss whose strategies and approaches you don't support? How about you hold a deep concern that your organization is headed in the wrong direction?

If any of these types of concerns become pervasive and all-encompassing in your work life, you will want to look at the options you have to leave your job.

Don't quit your job. Quitting leaves you with very few options. You'll have no paycheck while you search for a new job. Your employer won't provide severance pay and you will usually be ineligible for unemployment compensation.

A much better strategy? You may want to seek out and negotiate an exit strategy with your employer.

An exit strategy is a way to remove yourself from your current situation with grace and professionalism, hopefully with a severance package. Your goal is to remove yourself from your current situation without losing face or burning relationship bridges with, for example, your current employer, boss, or professional colleagues.

You can plan your own exit strategy or ask your company to help you create an exit strategy. Sometimes an exit strategy is essential to cut your losses or to remove yourself from a mismatched work environment.

Whatever your reason, you need an exit strategy.

You've decided that leaving your current employer by quitting your job is the answer. You've done what you can to make your current job work. Maybe the lack of job fit or cultural fit is so glaring that you fear the long road to termination is about to begin. 

The Appeal of an Exit Strategy to Your Employer

You know that your employer hates to fire employees and that the termination process is arduous and lengthy for all participants.

Your employer needs to establish cause and avoid any hint of discrimination.

He needs to demonstrate that you have received performance coaching and that the appropriate steps in your company's progressive discipline policy were followed,

So, an exit strategy might appeal to your employer, too. No lawsuits. No acrimony. Unwanted employee gone. Get over your hesitation. An exit strategy may be the best path for both you and your employer.

You're a smart employee. You can read the small signals in your workplace. You didn't get a raise. Employees are complaining about you. The one-on-one's with your manager are increasing and growing increasingly focused on performance expectations and problems. You've checked out the signs to look for when employment termination is nigh.

Sample Exit Strategies

You can create your own exit strategy. Ways to quit your job that will help you save face and move into a successful future include:

  • Search for a new job while you are still employed. Give two week's notice when you accept a new job.
  • Ask your employer if you can work part-time or a reduced schedule while you look for a new job.
  • Transfer out of your current department if the company and culture are a good fit, but your immediate environment is not. Exercise this exit strategy before your relationship with your company is beyond repair.
  • Ask your manager to discuss an exit strategy with you. No matter the reason, if your job is not working out, perhaps your organization will work with you to pave your way out the door. No hard feelings; it just didn't work out.

    If you're this unhappy, your company may be, too. Perhaps the company will work with you to create an exit strategy that buys out your employment contract (if you have one) or provides severance in return for termination of the employment relationship. Your employer can also provide outplacement services.
  • You can also agree, as an exit strategy, on a reasonable time to exit your company. At the end of a project, on completion of a campaign, with the hire of a new employee, and when the company experiences the loss of a customer are examples of timed occasions to implement an exit strategy.

    Your company no longer needs your skills, has determined that you are a poor fit, or has nothing available when a project is completed. If you agree, you can agree on an exit strategy, that again might involve a severance package.

    Whatever exit strategy you pursue, time your employment termination to occur before relationships are irreparably damaged.