An Exit Strategy With an Open Door Policy

The search industry is emergent and robust. Most everyone knows anyone who’s anybody, and search engine marketers are in high demand. If you’re planning on taking your search engine marketing (SEM) skills to another business, you must prepare for your departure. Be certain how and when you intend to leave and that you’re protected when doing so.

Selling a business is one of the most critical decisions a business owner will ever make. The owner is allowed only one chance to do the deal right. Usually, this means an exit strategy is part of the original plan prepared to secure financing during startup. Exiting the role of a corporate SEM manager is no different. You must be certain your exit strategy satisfies your current employer, your future employer, and your personal and professional objectives.

Priorities and Objectives

Before you decide to leave your current employer, understand the difference between your personal and professional objectives. It’s worth running through a few exercises on paper to make certain you really want to leave your current employer before you look at how your finances will be affected by the move.

Professional considerations should include brief business reviews of both companies. You don’t have to prepare a comprehensive strategic planning document, just a list of pros and cons for each organization. This way, you’ll be certain the company you plan to work for is stable. There’s nothing worse than accepting a position with a new company that lands you first in line for layoffs or downsizing.

Professional contemplation should also include some personal introspection. Are you running away from an ungrateful ogre of a boss or seeking upward mobility? Take the time to build contacts at your potential new employer to be certain your new working environment doesn’t conceal traps that could stymie your personal goals.

Personal considerations always require financial planning. The average SEM professional won’t bail from a current employer unless she inhabits an untenable working environment or there’s substantial monetary gain with a new employer. Though an escalating gross salary might look good on paper, net income and disposable income are more realistic measures to study when reviewing finances.

If you’re relocating, factor cost-of-living variables into your budget. Don’t let your newly augmented disposable income be gobbled up by unforeseen circumstance. Relocation packages can be a small windfall or a budget-buster for the year. Thoroughly understand your tax situation before you accept a job offer from a new employer. Relocating less than 30 miles away is taxed differently than 800 miles away from your current residence.

Know the tax ramifications of your relocation package before you agree to anything. Untaxed benefits can come back to bite your budget on April 15, depending on how your new employer handles disbursement.

It’s a Date

Once you’ve ascertained your personal and professional objectives are better met by a new employer, it’s time to give notice to your current boss. Take some time to carefully write a resignation notice and suggest an agreeable timetable for your exit date — a timetable your future employer must also accept.

It’s important to personally deliver your resignation notice. If you have regularly scheduled meetings with your boss, use this preordained time to deliver the message. Be prepared to discuss your decision openly and honestly. If you don’t have a set schedule for communicating with your boss (probably something that contributed to the decision to move on), set up a special meeting do deliver your resignation, even if it’s under the guise of a project update.

Under no circumstances knock on your boss’s door, toss the resignation notice on the desk, and spew venom. Delivering a resignation is not the time for an emotional outburst. If you’re giving the customary two weeks notice, be prepared to show how you intend to spend the final two weeks with your current employer. It’s important to exit on your terms but leave the door wide open to the future.

As an in-house SEM professional, you probably have password-protected access to myriad subscription services and software programs unique to your position. Prepare a list of the tools loaded on your company-provided PC. Include usernames and passwords for each, and expiration dates, when applicable. Doing so provides a road map for your replacement and a valuable, dated document for relinquishing your rights to the tools. Of course, this is also a good time to make certain all the links in your SEO (define) toolbox are up to date so it’s easy to set up shop at your new office.

You may have been privy to developing proprietary programs for your current employer. Patented, even patent-pending, search-related products or services remain with the company that employed you. An employee’s involvement in proprietary initiatives is typically covered in nondisclosure and non-compete clauses to which you’re contractually obliged. Understand your rights and liabilities when you give notice to avoid potential pitfalls with your next employer.

Hit the Road

On or about the last day with your current employer, you’ll be expected to complete an exit interview, usually with someone from human resources. Again, this isn’t the time to toss a verbal hand grenade.

If you have viable recommendations for creating a more positive working environment, share them at this time. If not, sit down, shut up, and look pretty. It’s easy to feel pretty good when you’ve packed your boxes and moved personal items out of your office (before you gave two weeks’ notice) just in case the company let you go on the spot. It’s equally easy to feel good about yourself, knowing you’re moving on to a new opportunity but leaving the door to your future wide open.

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