I wrote recently about the need forhaving an exit strategy, but today’s focus is on the more practical steps to implementing a longer-term exit plan. To differentiate, an immediate exit strategy is about defining all your work into portable and transferrable skills and then focusing principally on networking your way to your next job based on being an expert diagnostician (nonclinical diagnostics) and problem solver. With a long-term strategy, you have the opportunity to establish a body of work that classifies you as more traditional job candidate which can couple the use of recruiters and HR departments in addition to your networking.
For example, I was speaking recently with a client who said she wanted to continue to practice for at least the next five years, but had an eye towards consulting after that. When we talked about what she was doing, and more importantly, what she was doing to lay the foundation for her future consulting work, the answer was simply, “I’m looking for ways to expand my administrative involvement. “
While doing just that is a very good thing, how it’s done is even more important. Continuing to use her as an example, as she approaches that five-year horizon she will then likely start contacting various companies, perhaps recruiters and other networking contacts. If her CV or, hopefully, resume, lists only clinical employment with references to “improving systems, etc…” then on the strength of her resume (the usual initial point of contact) she will not be viewed by recruiters or HR staff as a consultant, but rather as a physician who has likely sat on some administrative committees. Please read my blog post, “The Resume Recruiters Love to Hate.” And her result will be many unreturned phone calls and emails.
My client is headed in the right direction, and certainly has the right intentions – to expand her consulting knowledge base, but the devil is in the how, not the what.
She needs to have accountability for her administrative work. Accountability means she should carry a separate job title. She should have specific time allocated to that job. She should have a specific set of responsibilities, goals, and objectives against which she will be measured. And, most importantly, she should be at risk. That is, she is paid separately for this work and she can be fired.
So, if you’re an internist and you tell a potential employer that you’re also a consultant within the health system, but simultaneously you always see 25 patients a day, every day, any savvy person will simply not believe you spend much time or effort consulting. I wouldn’t believe you. I would believe you probably attended some meetings and likely offered your opinions – and your opinions may have been of value. BUT, had your opinions not been of value, had your participation been lethargic, would it have actually cost you anything?
Therefore, to have a strategic plan, you need another job. Part time or project-based, you need to be offering services, advising, consulting, if you will, for another party who will fire you if your work is not great. You also want that entity to provide you with a business card, and depending on your role and the size of the organization, you want to be listed as a “contributor,” Advisor, Consultant, etc., on the company web site.
Now you’re actually adding legitimate details to your resume – now it definitely is a resume rather than a CV, and you are building your value. In this process, keep detailed records of what you did, why you did it and what it’s outcome/value was – keep the same detail you would in a medical record. That too is added to your resume.
Let’s expand your reach further with some writing in professional blogs or journals about your projects and some speaking engagements, and you are now an expert.
All this doesn’t happen just by hoping it will. Someone once gave me a book titled, “Hope is Not a Strategy.” It’s one of those touch-points I often repeat. Your strategy should be written down. You should establish goals and objectives, and you must create timelines and milestones. You must hold YOU accountable. Once you do this, talk to people about it… call me and talk to me about it. You’re looking for critique, you’re looking for validation and for recommendations about how to accomplish your goals and objectives. Importantly, you’re looking for confirmation from business people that if you successfully implement this strategy you will be well positioned to make the transition you wish.If you spend three years, five years or more doing this, you can have just about any job you want.