Professional Development

Are you thinking about another job? What's your exit strategy?

Healthcare professional smiling and holding a tablet.


When I was in the midst of my Information Technology (IT) career, the thought of moving up to another position popped into my head. I already thought about the position I wanted, and everything associated with the position (e.g., location, salary, etc.)except for one thing, “what would my strategy for leaving my current position be?” The thought of having a strategy for obtaining another position was clear to me but having a strategy for how to leave a job was never apparent. With that said, I soon realized that as an IT professional, and given that the IT community is a small one where everyone knows each other, it may be a good idea to formulate an exit strategy from my current position.

My comprehension of IT community operations stimulated additional thinking and research to understand how the current IT labor market was operating. It meant understanding the overall perspective of career management as something everyone should address at some point in their life.  Albeit whether you are transitioning from only one job or multiple, understanding how to navigate the process has transformed from historical processes. If we have learned anything from the impact of COVID-19 upon the workplace and the manifestation of the Great Resignation, we know the workplace must change to accommodate employee transition. This adaptation stems from increased opportunities for career growth and development, and no industry understands employee turnover like the IT industry.

The “…development of the IT labor market has transitioned profoundly away from the conventional wisdom…” (Shimer, 2005, p.494) that an endless pool of applicants will be available. A lack of qualified applicants to fill much needed positions, has created unprecedented turnover and the poaching of IT personnel from one company to another. Through technological advances, a fluid labor market, better work conditions, increased compensation and advancement opportunities, employers are forced to shift their thinking…because IT professionals have shifted theirs.

For IT professionals who are thinking about other IT opportunities, ensuring you are prepared for new possibilities means developing a plan or exit strategy. Within the body of your exit strategy, there are several necessary parts: developing a plan, developing a timeline, and closing the loop.

Developing a Plan

When you have decided to transition to a new position, the most essential element for plan development is arriving at the realization that you will be leaving your current position. It is essential to understand this, while remaining engaged in your current position. One way to ensure you are ready to create your plan is to apply Schlossberg’s Theory of Adult transition or the “Four S’s” (Situation, Self, Support and Strategies) (Marcdante, Know & Amidon, 2020).


Schlossberg’s Theory of Adult Transition (Four S’s)

Four S’s

Key Issues/Questions to Address When Transitioning to a New IT Position


What has changed that lead to this transition (salary, environment, expectations)? What is your desired position? What stressors do you have (relationship, financial, relation, etc.)?


What are your values, morals, ethics, etc. that contribute to your purpose and meaning in the IT industry? How have you transitioned to previous positions? What are your Strengths? Weaknesses? Opportunities? Threats?


How is your support for making this transition and previous transitions? Whom can you seek for guidance regarding this transition? Is the transition internally or externally?


What are your transition priorities (e.g., courses of action, timeline, etc.)? How will you address the impact of this transition on your support structure? Is your current supervisor supportive or antagonistic towards you? What is your plan for encountering transitional resistance?

(Goodman, Anderson, Schlossberg, 2012)

Whenever transitioning to a new position, establishing a good plan that addresses all potential influences makes the process clearer. Moreover, depending upon your current relationship with your organization, the transitional difficulties will increase or diminish, and it is beneficial to anticipate organizational reactions to your transition. Furthermore, you must understand that the IT industry is a “small world” and the lack of qualified personnel to fill every position puts you into a position of strength. Thus, it does not eliminate the need for planning your exit, while ensuring your current supervisor understands your rationale for transitioning.

Develop a Timeline

After you have completed a detailed assessment of your situation and developed an initial plan, the next step in the process is for you to establish a departure time. In reviewing your plan, you will need to understand how much time it will take for you to complete your transition (e.g., job search, moving, training, etc.). To enact a well-established plan, understanding how long it will truly take you to complete your plan is essential. This means ensuring your plan is flexible with various options. The rationale is that by anticipating possible challenges, you can avoid most delays that could affect the timeline of your plan. 

Closing the Loop

As you transition, it is important to depart your organization in good standing. As every IT professional knows, the IT industry is a small community and “everyone knows everyone.”  Simply stated, ensure you conduct yourself professionally when closing the loop. Clear communication between your supervisor, replacement or other organizational stakeholders can ensure the transition is professional. 

There should not be any “hard feelings” between you and members of your departing organization; however, we are not naïve and realize that some individuals may hold negative feelings about your departure. It is impossible to make everyone happy and your departure from an organization should not be hostile. Ideally you and your departing organization can still collaborate professionally.


Transitioning from one job to another is challenging and the roadblocks you might encounter are unique to each situation. However, transition is part of the natural order of things, in that we will all transition professionally at some point in our careers (e.g., new hire, advancement, retirement, etc.). Therefore, as a professional it is incumbent upon us to be ready for those inevitable changes.



Goodman J, Anderson ML Schlossberg NK. Counseling Adults in Transition: Linking Practice With Theory. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company; 2012.

Marcdante, K., Knox, K. & Amidon, M. (2020). Preparing for the transition to your next career role. Journal of Graduate Medical Education, February, 109-110.

Shimer, R. (2005). The cyclicality of hires, separations, and job-to-job transition. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review, July/August, 87(4), 493-507.