How to Quit / Go Abroad? (Tips on Professionalism)

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This is a followup to the first post on this topic which talked about “When to Quit

Even if you know you must quit (according to the specific rules in that previous post), how to go about it is a dilemma facing young professionals.

The problem is: when should you tell the company you will no longer be working with the m. If you tell too early then there is a fear of losing maybe a healthy increment or a good project to work on.

If you tell too late then there is problem with your professionalism.

Most of employees try to keep it a secret until the very last second, and that causes problem on employers side as they have to fill in the position without any early warning. if they inform too early than the employee loses on maybe some benefits or good work.

Also keeping in mind the process of going abroad for study or job for a Pakistani citizen is usually 8-12 months and that too is uncertain until they actually get the visa this triggers the hiding phenomenon.

Is there a situation where both parties win? Yes there is, read on…

The First and Most Important Rule

Your employers should be your friends, compadre’s, companions on the road of that company.

If you do not have enough rapport with your seniors and management that you feel insecure about sharing your thoughts and plans, then you still have a lot to work on.

Infact if you build that rapport you might even be able to improve your specific work conditions enough to remove all the reasons for leaving in the first place.

I agree that some companies just make senior management inaccessible to everyone, but that should only encourage you to work harder on getting into a circle of trust with them.

However, if your company is open, and you still sit in the corner coding away, that is actually looked at (from management) as a sign that this person is going to leave soon.

So Rule#1 — make sure you have a good professional relationship with your employers.

The Professional Way of Discussing the Going Abroad Option – Part I

Again, why would you want to keep your friends in the dark about this — its not like you’re planning to lead an underground revolution against capitalism or something.

The best way to approach this problem is to start early – when you’re only just thinking about whether or not going abroad is good for you.

Go speak to your seniors / management — take them to lunch, request for their time. Then, in a comfortable environment, ask them for advice on this.

Mr. Boss, what do you think about young professionals going abroad to gain international experience for a few years – do you think the international market still has something useful to offer for my knowledge, or can we learn everything in Pakistan?”

The key point it do not assume that you are smarter and know more about life than managers. If nothing else, they have seen more of the trenches / environment that you are in. They are probably the best people available for guidance, because their advice will be related to the specific career / industry that your company is operating in, and what you have now gained experience in.

By making your management part of the initial planning process sincerely, a lot of amazing things can take place:

  • They might tell you about how the specific industry you are in (e.g. Enterprise Software / Healthcare Software) is changing — who are the key players etc. This makes sure that you dont have to start from scratch in a new industry if you went abroad alone.
  • Some companies could happily offer to support your education by giving scholarships in case you are a promising chap who would benefit from international experience. Nestle and other MNCs do this, Leading IT companies do this.
  • If you’re in a mid-to-large IT company, they might even consider placing you in their international office — this has happened often. It helps both parties.
  • You might realize that there are opportunities in the local market / with that company that you are not aware of — you might realize that the company you are working for is infact doing pretty well in terms of giving top-quality experience in comparison with international companies.

The important thing is to have a sincere conversation with your seniors and learn from their experience. Do not be too arrogant to say “Well how do you know?! What makes you qualified to say that?” when that senior is telling you about international companies and experiences.

The Professional Way of Discussing the Going Abroad Option – Part II

Once you have had the initial conversation, and if you still decide that you must go abroad, then here is how to approach this matter professionally.

Go to your employer in person (DO NOT EMAIL — this is a sensitive discussion), and calmly but confidently say:

Mr. Boss, thank you for our conversation the other day. I though about it and I just wanted to let you know that I still feel that going abroad might be the best option for my career at this point.

However, this does not mean anything right now — Right now I will start the application process but you know this can easily take 8-10 months, and even then it is uncertain.

In the meantime, you can rest assured that this is not going to distract my work in any way — in fact I will work harder to prove that I am still an asset for you until the last minute

So if I do end up leaving in 8-10 months, I will ensure that none of my projects affects or disturbs my company. If I do not leave, then you will already have a person who believes in this company’s future”

Say that — and mean it — and come back here to tell me if you do not still get good opportunities from the company while you are planning to go abroad.

How to Approach Quitting Anyway – Part I

First of all, find out why you want to quit — no it is not just “I should get more money”. Find out why you feel you should get more money. No it is not just “Because my friend is at so-and-so and he is earning more”.

Think deeper, what you are probably feeling is “The amount of money that I am getting does not feel like adequate compensation for the amount of work and results I produce — producing these results takes away my time from my family”

Well that is better. Atleast it gets to the actual reason why you feel uneasy.

Similarly think hard about all of the elements that are making you feel like going somewhere else.

Next — and this is important — have a calm conversation over lunch with your managers very early in the process. Instead of saying “I’m quitting because of these reasons” say “Mr. Boss, I had a few suggestions that might improve my own productivity if they are possible to implement”.

Here is the important thing — do not just point out those problems to your boss — give them options, suggestions, ideas, solutions.

Obviously, if they are not paying attention to these problems its because they dont think they should think about a solution here. So make a solution, and present that as an option.

E.g. “I feel that I am not sufficiently trained to complete these technical assignments. I propose that if the company could send me on technical training in this area, and two-weeks of specific down-time to let me go through many tutorials and exercises, then I am confident I could do it. I have looked at training houses and the cheapest but good quality one is <here>

Is the above sentence good, or is it better to just say “I dont think I can do this technical work”

Always say “I propose that…” instead of “The company SHOULD …” Do not demand… discuss. Let them make the decision, you can only propose a solution.

Oh, and the solution is NEVER “So the solution is that I stop working from tomorrow and…” (the only exception to this is if you want to take full responsibility for failure… then you can propose you quit).

How to Approach Quitting Anyway – Part II

Maybe you will do this for many months and still the employer will not budge. Maybe you will actually find a better opportunity out there. In those cases, here is how you would approach it:

Again, go meet your boss in person (NEVER EMAIL — this is a sensitive topic) and say:

Mr. Boss, I just wanted to meet to let you know that despite having such a wonderful time at <this company> I have found another opporunity in the market that — I feel — is much better for my career at this point.

If you would let me, please allow me to explain why I feel that opportunity might be better for my career — <then explain that better opportunity and how it will affect you in the future>.

I have also made sure that my moving will not affect any active projects — as you know the project I am working on is due to complete in 15 days, and so I would like to give a 1 month notice for moving to the other firm. In that time, I will be able to document and trasnfer all my knowledge to any replacement.

Finally, I think that there was no way I could have found that other opportunity without the invaluable experience at <this company> and because of the opportunity of building such professional relationships with people such as yourself. I will always cherish this time”

Note: you should feel comfortable to explain to your seniors why the other opportunity is better for your career. However, those should be very good reasons. Here are some things to note:

  • Never say “money” is the reason that opportunity is good unless they are offering 2X the salary of the current employer. Otherwise, do not mention money at all — this saves you from complex problems… in fact say “no money is not the reason”
  • You can mention that the other employers are offering a promotion (big jump in responsibilities / job title) that the current employer had offered at a much longer time. (again, this is not just a jump from Software Engineering to Senior Software Engineer — it is a jump from Manager to Director)
  • Make sure that other opportunity really is a jump for your career. Good reasons are NOT “Well the other opportunity is more relaxes… there is less work and I am not liable for anything”
  • Do not mention administrative things as the reason that opportunity is better. It should only be for a better career jump.

Facebook comments:


  • A very well written article. I just want to add my own personal experience. When I decided to quit and had a discussion with my manager he reacted very positively and discussed with me about my career goals/reasons of quitting which could be met with the current employers.

    So it is always good to discuss matters related with your career goals with your seniors and there is no harm in it.

    After all it is a professional matter nothing to be getting personal with.

  • Ammar, thanks for the appreciation. i agree its all business nothing personal :) i have mentioned this in another article titled expectations that its wrong on employers end to assume that employee gives importance to company all employees give priority to career so if in any way the career is getting blocked the employee has the right to move /quit for a better career move

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