Begin with the End in Mind

Everything is negotiable, including your exit package.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a salaried employee remains at an organization for an average of 4.1 years. Most people I know stay about 2 years then leap to another firm. They’re looking for more money, bonus potential, and of course, a title.  Companies do the same thing. The leaders research new markets, revenue potential, barriers to entry, and economic indicators that would force an exit.  You must do likewise.


Career climbers update LinkedIn with, “I got the job!” They negotiate salary, vacation, bonuses, car allowances, tuition reimbursement…everything but the inevitable departure.  When the unexpected happens, recession, pandemic, merger, restructure, they scramble to negotiate the exit.


Years ago I entertained the idea of an executive search firm. It was a tiresome process with several meetings, assessments, and soliciting personal and professional references. After hours of  busy work, the search firm principal presented a booklet with my MBTI profile. They offered a 6-month contract to “partner with me” in my career search.  For just $4,500 they would coach me on interviewing, networking, and resume writing. The client engagement manager and I would meet regularly and once we landed the right opportunity, I would pay the firm $1,500 as a finder’s fee. I politely declined.


The service wasn’t for me, but during one meeting I collected this nugget for my Career Playbook: negotiate your exit package when you join an organization.


For several months my friends have endured layoffs, furloughs, mental distress, and fear of the unknown. Each time the proverbial ax fell, my phone rang, “how do I handle this call with HR?” My friends were on the backfoot attempting to negotiate a defined exit package. There is little that can be added or changed when HR has a cut list. I’ve advised countless clients to watch for signs of a layoff and prepare their request before HR presents the boilerplate, “The company is prepared to offer you…”


How you start marks how you finish, so begin with the end in mind. Before you accept your next offer, prepare your exit strategy and outline your “gets” in writing.  If you created value for the company, don’t leave with a box of team-building photos and mementos from your tenure.  Remember, everything is negotiable.


Now, go update your playbook.

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