Moving into a new role, a friend of mine told me about the importance of creating an exit plan. Working for a reputable bank in Nigeria, he remembered the first thing mentioned in the welcome speech given to new employees; ‘Create an exit plan; whether it’s 2, 3 or 5 years you want to spend here, know what you want to do next and what steps you need to make to do so’.
Seemed pretty odd for a welcome speech, informing the new-starters to plan to leave when they had just started, but my friend told me that many people stayed with the company for quite a few years, only moving into different roles. The speech opened their mind and geared them up to think about moving up in their career and how their current roles could lead to that.
When in a new role we seldom think about where we are going next, rather we think about learning the ropes of the job, settling down and being a part of the company community. However after the talk with my friend, I realised that not thinking about where you are going next is almost like a ‘career shoot in the foot’ and is also another reason why we may be staying too long in jobs we have outgrown, or simply do not enjoy.
As soon as we get a new role we need to think about how that job will serve a purpose towards our long term goal, what skills and useful additional knowledge we will gain from it and how long we really think we will need to be there for before moving on. Of course, nobody knows what the future entails, but as they say ‘failing to plan, is planning to fail’. Look at how your current role can leverage you into that next step into your career.
So then how do you create an ‘Exit Plan’?
First ask yourself:
- What do I hope to gain from the role?
- How long do I anticipate being in this role?
- In what ways will I ensure that I gain the expertise required to push me forward?
Evaluate your performance
- The opportunities you have been given so far are usually based on where you have been and what you have done. Every couple of months write down the projects/tasks you have worked on, determine what you were able to do, what new skills you gained and what previous skills you were able to further develop. This will constantly inform you of your development and provide guidance on what you need to do next to build your expertise.
- The golden act. Knowing the right person can be enough to take you places. Take the opportunity to meet new people at work, ask people about their own career paths, which could also help with yours, and tell people what you enjoy and where you plan to go. You never know who could be a key factor to your next step.
Work out your career ideals
- Figure out what aspect of your role you really enjoy and would love to pursue, what truly drew you to your field and what really bothers you about the work you do. Having a true understanding of you career ideals and values could help guide your career steps.
- If you have not gained the experience you want, ask for it and if you’re not getting what you want, move on! Life is too short, and too exciting, to stay in a job that does not serve you.
Author │ Keji Peters – Careers Contributor