Exit Strategy – Part II

There are a lot of things to juggle as you move from one position to another…

As stated previously, there are a lot of things to juggle as you move from one position to another. It is customary in higher education circles to provide your current employer at least four weeks notice before your final exit for a new administrative leadership opportunity. While some new employers will provide you considerably more time to make a transition, no matter how many weeks off you have before your first day in your new position, that date is approaching at a rate that will feel like the speed of light.

To manage effectively, we suggest the following:

  1. Complete and promptly return all documents issued by your new employer.
  2. Meet with your current supervisor and/or human resources contact to confirm details of your departure (including last day on the job and handling of accrued vacation and/or sick leave), submit your official letter of resignation, and prepare the transfer of any retirement accounts as appropriate.
  3. Make a list of cyclical and predictable tasks under your current leadership, as well as key committee responsibilities —
    • Consider the capacity of current staff reports as well as other campus colleagues and devise a plan to delegate responsibilities for the next three or four months;
    • Discuss your proposed delegation of responsibilities with your supervisor and collaboratively fine-tune the transition plan, including who will assume key components of your duties following your departure;
    • Implement regularly scheduled “transition meetings” to facilitate training up of staff and colleagues and to foster their investment in these efforts;
    • Report on progress to your immediate supervisor and take time to express your appreciation to everyone who is stepping up to make the transition a success;
    • Your goal is to wind up your current position on a high note, preserving positive working relationships up, down, and across the institution.
  4. Enlist your spouse, partner, and/or other family members and close friends to map out your relocation priorities – –
    • If possible, designate a trusted member of your inner circle to take the lead on working with a local realtor, contractors, etc., to prepare your current home for sale, if appropriate;
    • Consult with your legal advisor to determine if you should appoint someone locally with “power of attorney” to act on your behalf to facilitate future transactions (such as sale of your current home, transfer of funds, etc., as needed), especially after you make a physical move;
    • Move quickly to secure estimates for relocating your personal effects – – generally, higher education employers who will be sharing in the cost of your move will want three estimates from moving companies –
      • If your budget allows, hire a moving company that will take care of packing and shipping all of your household goods (this will save time for you to address other priorities)
    • Determine what additional information or resources you need to access in the locale of your next position and arrange a time to speak with your new employer (or their designee) to strategically discuss best ways to address your questions—your goal is to be highly organized so as to avoid constant calling, emailing, or texting your new supervisor who is also likely on double-duty doing your future job and their own – –
      • Recommendations to meet dependent educational or child care needs;
      • Employment resources for your partner;
      • Options for temporary housing through your hiring institution;
      • Suggestions of local realtors to assist your hunt for housing (to rent, or buy).
  5. Take a little time off between jobs, if at all possible – – this will allow you to hit the “refresh button” and make space to think clearly about the next set of priorities as you head into your first 100 days in your new position.

Valerie Szymkowicz

Vice President - Spelman Johnson

Valerie Szymkowicz received her BA in natural science/environmental studies from New England College and her MEd in student personnel from the Graduate School of Education at the University of Vermont. For over 20 years, she worked in higher education at both public and private research, baccalaureate, and liberal arts institutions, principally in the areas of academic advising, experiential education, and career services. With a strong belief in cultivating leadership potential among talented rising stars, Valerie has been a guest presenter at the NASPA Region I Mid-Managers Institute facilitating discussion on professional development priorities and she regularly presents on topics related to building capacity and leadership potential for other professional organizations including the National Association of Colleges and Employers and the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers.