Given the unusual job market we’ve been experiencing for years now, it is imperative that every job seeker keep an exit strategy in mind. Do you have yours nailed down? If your exit strategy is dependent on hope and crossed fingers, it’s time to rethink some things.

Ideally, you shouldn’t wait until signs of trouble show up to plan your next career move. At a minimum, when those signs appear, it’s already time to move. In some industries, you may experience what’s known as a “RPE” – a “resume-producing event.” That could come in the form of an intense company meeting or any other warning signs that your organization could be in trouble.

If you ignore these signs and wait, you become a sitting duck. You lose your power of negotiation: If you don’t go looking for a job until you’ve lost yours already, then you have no choice but to find a job. You’ve given up your leverage.

On the other hand, getting ahead of the game gives you increased negotiating power and the time to wait for the right opportunity. Here are six tips to help you plan your exit strategy before it’s too late:

1. Keep Your Resume Up to Date

You never know when the right opportunity could come along. Even if your job is great, wouldn’t you consider a job that offered twice the pay? You always want to be prepared because you never know what might happen.

The other advantage to keeping your resume updated at all times is that you won’t have to go back and remember important facts later. Instead, you can keep track of the critical details as they happen.

2. Get Active on LinkedIn

If you only update your LinkedIn profile when you’re looking for a job, then it’ll be a dead giveaway that something’s up when you do update it. Keeping your LinkedIn profile continuously fresh can help to quiet suspicions.

3. Keep It Quiet

It can be tempting to share that you’re looking for another job. Although you have good intentions, they can backfire. Worst-case scenario, you can be walked out of the building when your news leaks. This takes your power away and puts added pressure on you to find a job ASAP, so keep your lips sealed.

4. Stay Connected With Your Old Coworkers

StairsWhen you start searching, you’ll need references from your previous employers. It’s important to keep in touch with your former managers, coworkers, and employees. That way, you’ll have a bank of folks to offer when it’s time for employers to dig into your background.

5. Take Inventory of Your Finances

If worst came to worst, would you be prepared to be unemployed for six months? For many job seekers, this timeline is a reality. Look closely at your finances to ensure you’ll be able to survive if you have to.

6. Leave on Good Terms

Give at least two weeks’ notice, and keep your word. Think very carefully before you bash your boss in an exit interview. Put in your best work until your very last day.

Leaving can be a tough process. Many people look at changing jobs like breakups or divorces. Do your best to be prepared so you can walk toward a better situation rather than run from a bad one. It will help you keep your peace of mind, and it will give you negotiating power in your interview process.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Memphis Daily News.

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