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The right way to quit your job
Shifra Menezes
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June 24, 2008
Ajay Thakur*, a senior design professional, quit the web solutions company he had been working at for three years only to return after a year-and-a-half. Why had he left? "I had kind of reached saturation point with the work I was doing at the time. I needed a change," he says.

Then why the return? "I enjoyed my new profile and the new job was challenging. Throughout that year-and-a-half that I was away though, I had been in touch with my old colleagues and my boss. I was in the loop about the new developments and opportunities.

"When I had learned all there was to learn at the new place and was looking for a new challenge, my old employer was only to happy to have me back with a re-defined profile and, of course, a sizeable hike in pay."

For most, quitting one's job can be an acrimonious affair. However, the way Ajay handled his departure from the company made his return a welcome occurrence. Why? Ajay is what HR professionals refer to as a 'boomerang' employee.

Not only was Ajay a valued employee at the company at the time that he left, he had also picked up valuable skills from his brief departure and he had handled his resignation the right way.

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"It was a win-win situation for me and the company," says Ajay. "The company got the benefit of my experience and learnings, and I gained a greater responsibility and better profile. I guess it helped that I served out my notice period, instead of just putting in my papers and leaving within the week."

So what is the right way of going about your resignation? "It is important that an employee completes his/her handover formalities, and disseminates the maximum amount of information to his replacement. In most cases, hiring a replacement also could be truly beneficial to the employer. One other instance I recall is how the employee continued to perform during his notice period which many tend to avoid as they have already resigned," says Vijay Sivaram, Regional Manager, South, IKYA Human Capital.

How to quit gracefully

  • Serve your notice period
  • Explain why you are leaving and that you would be interested in returning at a future date
  • Perform productively during your notice period
  • Hire or help hire a replacement
  • Train your replacement to the best of your ability
  • Do not steal or delete files/data that you have worked on
  • Stay in touch with ex-colleagues/bosses

"As quitting itself is negative, it is important that the resignee understands his responsibility to the organisation and makes sure s/he leaves as per the policies of the company. I have had instances when people have resigned by just sending me a single line e-mail (a thank you would have been better)," says Sivaram. "Another instance is citing reasons such as health, personal problems etc and once you quit, you join a competitor the next day (lying is definitely the worst way of quitting.)."

Sheetal More* interviewed for a vacancy at a Mumbai-based news television channel while she was working with a content development agency. The channel was in urgent need of staff and asked her to give a week's notice instead of serving out the month.

"I just couldn't do that to my employer, after working with them for two years," says Sheetal. "I enjoyed my stint there and wanted to make sure that if at some point I wanted to return, there would be no bad blood."

"Many people choose to quit within a week, which creates a bad impression not just on your ex-employer but on your new one as well. Plus you are definitely crossing off any good references you could get from your boss," she says. "If you are good at what you do, your new employer will not mind waiting for you until you fulfill your prior commitments."

So Sheetal joined the new company, that was almost two years back. "My ex-boss still sends me an e-mail once in a while letting me know that I am welcome back. So there are benefits to leaving on a good note."

*Names changed on request.

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