#1 — KNOW WHAT YOU WANT + WHY
It’s critical to understand who you are, what you want in your work and life — and why. Without this level of self-awareness to start with, you’ll struggle to build a fulfilling and sustainable career. Whether you choose to stay — or go.
At this point, forget your current role. Don’t even think about the next career or job you want to move into. Be specific about what you want, first.
Ask yourself: What’s most important in my work and life? Think about your priorities and personal values.
Get clear on your vision for the career and life you want to create. Depending on the season you’re in, your financial and lifestyle goals will vary.
At this stage, is your focus on family and flexibility — or making money and climbing the career ladder? Do you need the security of a steady pay cheque — or desire to create something of your own?
Understand what motivates and drives you. What impact do you want to make through your work? And what’s the ‘why’ behind what you do?
#2 — WHAT’S MISSING?
Next, weigh up your current position against what you want in your personal and professional life. What are the gaps? Identify what’s missing and the specific aspects you’re unhappy with.
Are achievement and growth important to you? Check there’s room for progression and a willingness to invest in your development. If workflow is an issue, this will explain why you don’t feel challenged.
Here’s why this is important. If you aren’t aware of what’s missing from your current role, the same issues will follow you to your next position.
#3 — TAKE RESPONSIBILITY
Workplace and business needs are changing rapidly. As organisations scramble to respond, it’s tough for them to stay on top of every individual’s needs. This is why it’s critical you take responsibility for your career planning and development too.
Even if you don’t feel recognised or valued now, a decent employer will want to invest in your development. Businesses understand the importance of retaining their best people. But YOU need to take ownership of this by clarifying your goals — and being proactive about asking for what you want.
Reverse engineer your vision into specific goals and action steps. Identify your big, long-term career goal and break it down into smaller milestones. This could look like mapping out your next few job moves to reach your ultimate career goal.
What are the gaps between where you are now — and where you want to go? Figure out your development areas and create a plan to bridge these gaps too.
#4 — ADDRESS YOUR CURRENT SITUATION
Before you quit, take steps to improve your current situation. Be proactive about addressing the things within your control.
Have a conversation with your boss about any aspects you’re unhappy with. Come prepared with some solutions so you can develop a plan together to address these issues. Then, give them the opportunity to make changes and improvements.
Talk to them about your professional goals and long-term career plans. Never assume the opportunity you want doesn’t exist! Or your employer won’t support a move into a different team or department.
Companies recognise how important it is to keep their top performers. Especially at the moment when it’s difficult to recruit — and people have more options.
I’ve seen many positive examples of employers investing in learning and development. They’re supporting ambitious individuals to upskill and progress their careers internally. And encouraging others to follow non-traditional career paths within the organisation.
Get the FULL picture before you decide to move on. Understand what opportunities and options exist. Then, assess whether your current organisation can support your career goals — or if it’s time to go.
#5 — LEAN INTO YOUR NETWORK
Well before you resign, be strategic and lean into your network. Talk to your mentors about your career goals. Get feedback and introductions to people who can connect you to new opportunities.
Speak to people doing work you’re interested in. Especially if you’re considering a career change, new industry or starting a business.
Career conversations are a great way to test and validate your career or business idea. As a bonus, you’ll remain top of mind for suitable opportunities or client referrals.
#6 — HAVE A PLAN
Even if you’re privileged enough to be able to quit without a new role, it’s critical to have a plan. Be strategic, so you don’t waste time and resources.
First, have a financial buffer in place. Particularly if you’re taking time out, having a career break or starting a business.
Second, plan out your exit strategy. Secure your next position or begin developing the skills you need for your future career. For example — further study, volunteering or board positions.
Starting your own business? To make the transition, begin with a side hustle, go part-time or consult to your current company.
In a toxic environment and desperate to get out? If you don’t have a financial buffer in place, get a bridge job. This takes the pressure off and will give you time and space to find the right, long-term position.
#7 — LEAVE ON GOOD TERMS
By following these steps, you’ll reduce the risk of making a mistake with your next career move. But the grass isn’t always greener. If you have a great boss or employer, part on positive terms and stay in touch.
You never know where you (or they) will end up in future. They could connect you to opportunities or refer clients if you’re starting your own venture. I’ve seen many former employers become clients too!
With all the talk of changing jobs and wealth of available opportunities, it’s natural to think about your next career step. But deciding whether to stay or go isn’t easy. These tips have helped my clients make the right career choices and be strategic about their moves — I hope they support you too.