Regardless of your experience, expertise, dedication, or desire – Every Job is Temporary. Stickman

So, what is your exit strategy?

To quote the late Stephen Covey “Begin with the end in mind.”

If your career, and industry/field are solid, you might be considering retirement, pension, travel, and rest. But if you are like the majority of us, your livelihood is subject to the whims of politics, the economy, public pressures, and other external forces, so you would be wise to consider an exit strategy.

Anyone who is or has been in the government sector, know all too well the speed with which a reduction in force, change in administration, or reorganization can sideline long term plans. Yet another reason to have a Plan ‘B’. [This short video offers some free methods for generating immediate revenue.]

Transitioning into the civilian sector is inevitable and can be a challenging event for the unprepared or under-prepared. To help reduce your angst here is a short list of things you can do to ready yourself for your transition. It’s all about taking as much control as possible to manage the process and effect the outcome.  It starts with considering your next career.

1. Choosing Your Next Career – When considering what comes next start by working from your strengths, and moving toward your desires.

You already know what you’re good at; if not then conduct a S.W.O.T. Analysis and better understand your strengths. Unless there’s some reason or issue that would prevent you from continuing to do what you’re already good at, it is more expedient to examine possible careers that closely match with your strengths. Closely examine the job announcements, because a potential employer is telling you some of the characteristics they are looking for in a candidate.

You can then use those job announcements to:
a) craft your resume and instantly become more competitive – the secret here is to look at several job announcements for similar positions and identify the common characteristics…then (if appropriate) include them in your resume, cover letter, application, or CV.
b) identify skills you may not currently possess, and begin acquiring them – the goodness here is that you can now learn many of these skills online for free! Check out Massive Open Online Courses for more details.
c) discover opportunities for use of your strengths beyond your traditional sphere – this is a take on the Blue Oceans Strategy with regard to making your competition irrelevant in that you would be providing your skills in a manner that others would not.

Lastly, it’s become well recognized that most job announcements search for soft skills; the ability to communicate clearly and effectively, to manage high performance teams, and to provide a positive customer service experience. If you have exceptional soft skills, then you are in the running…if not, then here another opportunity to distinguish yourself from your potential job competitors.

Remember: There is a difference between a job and a career, and how you view your current and future employment will significantly impact what you do next.

The job you have is a vehicle to get you to the career you want.

2. Expand, don’t reduce (limit) your options – Flexibility is key to opportunity.

One book I reference often is Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese?  Having a willingness to go where the opportunities exist significantly improves your employment options. The obvious takeaway from this point is that if you limit yourself geographically, financially, or temporally (times and dates of availability) you run a common risk of undercutting y0ur competitive advantage. Ms. Louis Fletcher, author of Blue Sky Guide to Job Search also offers suggestions as to how you could get the attention of employers before the competition and avoid the crowd.

Consider for a moment a candidate who is otherwise perfectly matched for the position, but is unwilling to relocate, or unwilling to work during weekends. Compare this to a similar candidate who is less skilled, but willing to learn, and also willing to relocate and potentially work weekends. If you were a hiring manager, which candidate appears more flexible and thus more hire-able?

Lastly, have you considered working online? Click here to check out this site for some of the best online and telecommute jobs (full or part-time)?

3. ResearchMistakes happen when we jump too quickly into the employment search without conducting the minimum of research.

Inadequate research is perhaps the single most important area where most career seekers weakest in their transition plan. When we feel the pressure of financial obligations, social isolation and discouragement, we are too often tempted to leap first and look later. However, it’s been my professional experience that even the most cursory research of of a potential company, corporation, or business will avoid significant headaches and heartaches down the road.

Simple questions to research a potential employer should include at a minimum (in no particular order):

– what are the benefits offered?

– what is/are the expected work location(s)?

– what is the employer’s reputation in the business community?

– what is the level of turnover?

– what are the opportunities for advancement?

– what is the salary range?

– when would you be expected to start?

The good news is that the answer to these and many other questions can be found in the job announcement(s), and on the company’s web page. What you don’t find there, you can usually mine for from various Internet resources. Here is a short video on how you can automate your job research in an effective and painless manner…even while you’re sleeping!

4. Prepare an Action Plan – Once you’ve mined the information you want, for the job opportunity that interests you, it’s time to create an action plan. There are dozens of Action Plan Templates you can use to create your exit strategy – too many to list here, so instead here is a link to additional free resources on

I hope you find this information helpful in preparing for exit strategy!

Dr. Matthews