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Former executive vice-president of Telus, educator, adviser and author of Be Different or Be Dead.

What should happen when you want to move on?

The first thing to do is stop, pause and take a look at the reasons behind why you want a move. What’s driving the need you have to move on?

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  • A boss that’s making everyday a crummy day for you?
  • A bad recent experience on a project that’s left you questioning your future in the organization?
  • The sudden realization that there is no fit between your personal needs and the organization’s value system?
  • Your conclusion that the future opportunities from your current employer are limited and your long term career plan is in jeopardy if you stay?

Whatever the reason, it’s critical to get your thinking straight on why you want to change before you jump. You should take action if moving out the only way to achieve your long term goals.

Once you go you’re gone, and the likelihood of returning is slim to none. At one point in my career I was demoted from the executive leadership team due to a company merger and I felt intense pressure by many people around me (including family) to leave the company because of the way the new leadership treated me.

Even though I was emotionally driven to leave this organization that didn’t “recognize my worth,” I decided to stay because I felt that, notwithstanding the short-term hit I received by being demoted, in the long run hanging in would present opportunities to regain my position in the hierarchy and continue my rewarding career.

It was the right call; it paid off. I didn’t particular enjoy being removed from the executive leadership team and told to report to an individual who previously was my peer. But within a year of hard work and keeping my head down, I was appointed to the position of president of our exciting data and internet business and rejoined the executive leadership team.

Looking back, the easy thing would have been to pack it all in – to escape the emotionally ego draining experience I was buried in. Fortunately, I gave the matter considerable thought because it was a huge decision I had to make; I couldn’t afford to react to my plight and make a quick decision.

Be thoughtful when thinking about making a job change; do it for the right reasons.

Once you’ve decided to go, create a “moving-on” action plan. Define the things you need to do to not only get you out of your current situation but also leave with your currency strong and your head high.

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Burning bridges when you leave a job is not in your long-term interests – it’s dumb. Leave on the winds of elegance. Your moving-on plan should include these five elements:

Career game plan

Dust off your career game plan and revise it based on your current circumstances. Look specifically at the organizations you are interested in and wish to target, the position you would like to get and the people you should connect with to help you. Always consider your career plan a work in progress; constantly update it because you never know when you might have to revisit it to make a move.

Résumé

Revise your resume to reflect any changes you made to your career game plan. As your career game plan changes, your must your CV change to reflect the latest conditions.

And keep morphing it to try and make it different from the thousands of résumés out there that all look the same. The way your career story will be noticed by prospective employers is to make it unique and have it standout from others in some meaningful way.

Personal network

Meet with each of the top 5 in your personal network. Start the conversation on what opportunities exist in other organizations and get their views on how you should move forward. Actually, engaging with your network should be an ongoing priority even when you are not looking to move – be in a constant job hunting mode; it will prepare you if and when you decide to pursue other opportunities.

Close colleagues

Contact close colleagues in your present organization and explain why you are intending to leave. This includes bosses that you have had that you respect. It is extremely important that you leave with strong currency and personal integrity, as you never know when you might need their support in the future. Never close the door on the possibility of returning to the organization at some point.

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Supporters

Thank the people in your current organization who supported you and ask if there is anything you can do for them. A little recognition for the people who helped you out goes a long way. They will often give you valuable advice and will recommend you to people in their network. When you decide to close the pages on the current chapter of your career, make sure your champions and allies know they each played an important and valuable role in your life.

The decision to leave your present job is one thing, but doing it in the right way is another. Don’t fall victim to a knee-jerk reaction and an emotional exit.

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