It has been a great run. The company that you are with had done well, you were able to add value, you had a great team and came to work with purpose and eagerness to keep it rolling.
But something happened along the way.
Leadership changed, markets declined, good people left, culture morphed into a place that feels stuck or stagnate. Something happened to dampen that enthusiasm.
It started as a feeling, a nagging somewhere deep inside that something just is not right. It has since been growing to an inclination to find the irritations or things that are wrong rather than being able to see the brighter side of situations.
It is now an uncomfortable feeling that has you having internal conversations. Asking if it is worth it to stay, will things change back, will they get better, can you stick it out?
Left untouched, this feeling will turn into a resentment, anger and frustration that will cause a rift in business value, product, quality and relationships. It will become a dread on the way into work and a huge sense of relief when you leave that never quite feels right again.
You are ready to break up with your job.
Some opportunities, no matter how long, are meant as a growth experience, not a forever home. Fear of the unknown, starting again or even attempting to see what is out there manipulates us into looking at this starter or mid-way home as our forever home.
It does not fit and you know it. Now is the time to take control of the situation before the situation dictates to you what you must do next. There are benefits to leaving while you still somewhat like where you are:
1. Security in knowing you have time; you do, after all, have a job.
2. Ease in talking to prospective employers in talking about your current position in a positive way.
3. Less pressure in having to find a job right now.
4. A greater sense of worth and control in being the driving factor of change.
How do you find that new position? It has been some time since you looked and it is not like you have a lot of extra time in your schedule. Two words: strategy and subtlety.
The value of approaching a change strategically will give you power and control over what happens next. Being clear on your goals, value and opportunities will clarify if a change now is in your best interest. You may find after doing a little research and exploration that you might have over amplified the current situation and desire to rededicate yourself to where you are now. Revisit your strategy often to modify as necessary based on your results.
1. Clarify why you want to leave. Is there anything there that could change that would make you want to stay? Do you have an impact on the situation – i.e., is there anything you can do to take ownership to change the situation?
2. Get your head out of your current job and think about what you want to do next. Not in terms of a job title, rather the actual actions that you want to be doing on a daily basis. What do you enjoy the most and where are your strengths – where do these intersect?
3. Identify your value. There is a distinct difference between what you were hired to do and what you do. Where do you add value to leadership, teams, partners, clients and the organization as a whole?
4. Be able to demonstrate your value. How do you do what you do, whom do you work with, how do you work with them and how does it add value to what audience. It is not enough to say you are a leader with 10+ years’ experience in infrastructure management – you must be able to prove your worth. This is done through demonstration by integrating the answers to these questions into a your resume, networking and interviewing.
5. Determine what about the next move will make a difference. Will it be a lateral move in a new industry? Will it be a career change? Will it be advancement to the next level? What are you missing now and what about that next step will fill that need?
6. How are you connected to that next level? Do you have contacts that work for that organization or field that could make introductions? Identify targets and work backwards to find a path.
7. Clarify goals, know your outcomes, expectations and the actions you are willing to do to meet your goals. Would you like to make a change in six months? Are you just fishing? Would increasing your network and finding out more information about opportunities be enough to satisfy the itch? What do you want and what will you settle for?
8. Get your resume ready – if a contact asks for your resume, just to look at or possibly pass on, you want to be able to take advantage of that immediately.
Your security could be jeopardized by overt changes in patterns or behaviors. If you never left for lunch and now you leave every other day for networking lunches, it could raise a red flag. Remember, subtlety will allow you to test the waters while not cutting off your lifeboat.
1. Start reconnecting with contacts that might have fallen off a bit. A short little note to check in and see how things are going with them or their organization, it has been a while since you talked. An email directly or through LinkedIn is a great way to restart conversations.
2. Review your brand. Look at your LinkedIn profile – what does it say about you? This can be tricky when employed but looking for other opportunities. Make subtle changes to your LinkedIn that, while still supporting your current organization, you begin to highlight your value and contributions.
*Make sure that the “notify connections” is turned to “No”
3. After identifying organizations or contacts, build your network. Connect on LinkedIn with people that work for a targeted company. Review your contacts and notice if you have a strong network to help you reach that new level. If you find that you are very narrow in your connections, branch out to others who are doing what you want to do or could be a potential point of reference.
4. Begin adding value to your connections. Share articles that have value for the industry, clients or position. Share business information that would be helpful for your contacts. Start reestablishing yourself as a value provider. Scroll through your LinkedIn news feed and like or share relevant articles. Most articles on online sites offer a share button, use it for LinkedIn as it is the most prominent business site.
5. Gently feel out your contacts for leads. After reestablishing communications, ask questions or drop ideas in subtle ways. For example, during a conversation you might mention that you had read something about a certain position and that sounded really interesting to you, have they ever heard of an opportunity around your location that might fit that? Mention that you still like where you are, but that just seemed very interesting and might make you think twice about where you are.
6. Be able to sell yourself gently in conversations. When you meet someone who works for a targeted company, ask them what it is like, that you have always heard such good things about the organization.
If you ask about culture, respond with something along the lines of, “wow, that sounds terrific, I would love to continue to do XYZ, maybe at a higher level, but in that type of environment would be great.”
If you ask about their position, respond with something along the lines of “That sounds ideal, I like where I am but if I had an opportunity to redefine my job, it would be very much in line with what you are doing.”
At the end of each, if it feels comfortable, you can slip in with a smile, “hey, if there is ever an opening let me know”
7. For contacts that you trust, send them your resume. There is a subtle art to this and sending the resume does not come first. First, contact them and inform them you are looking to update it to reflect where you are now, you can even add you want to be poised if an opportunity arises in your organization. Tell them as they are someone you trust and value, would they mind reviewing your resume and giving you feedback. Once you get permission, then send it – in confidence.
Here is the thing – you are not asking their feedback so much as getting your resume in front of them. Remember strategy #8? Your resume should already be completed and written in a way that demonstrates your value for where you want to go. This will help your contacts see you in the way you want them to, not what they assume from how they have known you. You are re-establishing yourself with your connections.
8. Start attending networking opportunities. You are attending as a representative of your organization in your current role; however, it gives you the chance to listen for opportunities and increase your network. Ask more about the people you meet rather than talking about yourself. Build relationships as a value-based contributor.
9. Volunteering is a great way to network. Find something that aligns with a passion of yours that way it is not focused solely on making connections, but also doing something that give you value.
Strategically placing small seeds will give you chance to explore opportunities in a non-pressure way while giving your current role or responsibilities the attention and respect that they deserve.
As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies and their leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.