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TL;DR: I want to quit my job, take time to think, look at other jobs, and maybe get hired back if both me and my boss feel like it. How can I proceed ?

There are similar questions but my plan is different. I don't want to quit like "I'm off to infinity and beyond" quit. I want to be honest about my hope to come back if issues are resolved, salary negotiations properly done, and mental/physical health improved.

Is it reasonable, and if is, how can I do ?


Lately I felt the need to quit because of

  • stress related health problems

  • having 1 (or 1.5 ?) project managers over me to manage a great and unclear number of simultaneous projects.

  • because of that, doing everything without having matching pay (15% underpayed), authority, and defined role AKA "we don't get bored here"

  • things rely too much on me. I'm regularly asked to do and know new stuff, then I add it succesfully to the evergrowing pile of what I manage. It goes faster than I can document, teach, delegate, and improve tools.

  • not feeling understood. When I talk about these issues, I get positive feedback, promises, things change during 2 weeks, and then it comes back to the same state.

I thought maybe getting away could sort those issues. I would get the rest I need, a fresh mind to think about what job I want. Moreover, the company I work for would be forced to fix those problems. They would have no other choices than choose tool improvement over documentation and ninja secrets learning. Choose less projects over trying to do everything at once. I see this as a win-win perspective.

However I like my job and my colleagues and I have the hope to see my company resolve those issues without my help - I mean THANKS to my absence of help. So I don't see why I couldn't get back on board after that. Two of my older colleagues have done that successfully. Both for them and for the improvement of organization. My hierachy trusts me and needs me bad, alas too bad for my own good.

EDIT : I'm not looking for a safety net, as I am guaranteed to find job anywhere else, plus my boss once said "don't hesitate to come back" to a resigning former colleague (even if that former colleague was less trusted).

Context : first job after graduation, 9 years experience, software development, France.

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    Reverse the order. Tell you need break to improve heatlh. Tell that one part of those issues are work related issues and financial reasons. So with fixed health problem you will decide on where to work. And then you could decide if want to end relationship with current work or get back. You can take sick days off fro your need while just make company aware of the sources end your expetations to fix them. You cannot be fired while on sick leave. – SZCZERZO KŁY Jan 3 at 15:57
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    You might have more success framing this as a medical leave of absence, rather than "I'm quitting but would like a safety net if I can't find anything better". – Nuclear Wang Jan 3 at 16:09
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    I'm not sure applying "let's see other people" as described in the question would make sense in the workplace or in personal relationships. You can always get a job back if you and the employer both feel like it, but I don't see why your boss would necessarily feel like it here. Is there a reason that you think this approach is better than pushing for in-place improvements while you're still working there? – Upper_Case Jan 3 at 16:57
  • "We were on a break!!!!" could also apply to the workplace, though.Will boss want you back once they have taken on someone else (presumably) to backfill? I feel like the part you are missing is that you're not the only one who could fill this job (but I upvoted it as I think it's a good question, even though I disagree with the sentiment!) Btw, I can't remember where I read it (my attention span is terrible) but I read once somewhere that "jobs are fungible, relationships aren't" and this is fundamentally the difference. – seventyeightist Jan 3 at 20:56
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    Also, respectfully, you are asking the wrong question. You say you still want to work for this company, but if those issues you outlined (underpaid, key person dependencies, things don't change despite raising them multiple times, etc) persist - I don't think these multiple issues can be resolved in any short time and especially not by "forcing" the company to change those things. Can you elaborate (ideally by editing your question please?) on the statement: "Two of my older colleagues have done that successfully" ? (e.g. what happened in that case and what changed in response?) – seventyeightist Jan 3 at 21:13
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People do leave jobs and return to them, though that generally isn't pre-arranged. Here's what I suggest you do.

First, go to your boss and tell your boss things about you, not about the job. Not "this job is too X" but "I need less X in my life at the moment." Not "it is too Y for me here" but "I need to reduce the Y in my life at the moment." If your boss asks "how can we help you with that?" you might be able to say that you need to report to only one PM, or to have a structured written plan for achieving some specific thing, or you need a raise (this is unlikely because it is a known fact that raises do not fix dissatisfaction) or whatever. Your boss may not ask how to help, or if they ask they may shrug and say they can't do that, or they may say they will do that some day but then not do it. So be it.

Second, look for a job that is a better fit for the needs you have articulated about yourself. One that has less of what you don't want and more of what you do. You may not find a job like that. You may discover that living on the beach 5 minutes from a mountain top with no traffic and low real estate prices isn't possible, and similarly a job that pays really well yet is predictable and low stress, where nobody depends on you and it's ok to get stale -- that job may not exist. If that's the case you may decide to stay put. At least you know your options.

Third, if you find a job that works for you, tell your boss that you are leaving because of what you need "for the moment" and "while I am so stressed" and sort of lay the seed for the possibility that in the future, you'll want this job again, just as it is now, because you will be different.

Fourth, should it happen that you find yourself stronger, or you hear things have changed at this workplace, you can approach them about returning. It might happen (it happens for many people) or it might not. Always have a place to stand before you jump, and make sure it's a place you don't mind standing.

As long as you tell your boss what is wrong with the job and what needs to change about the job, and why a perfectly normal happy person can't be expected to put up with the job, you will have a very hard time ever explaining why you want to come back. But if your position was always "this is how I am now and what I need now" it's understandable that your situation could change again, and make you want to come back. The boss doesn't lose any face with this approach.

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No, "let's see other people" does not work on the workplace... except in places where that's explicitly regulated.

For that to work, both sides of the equation need to benefit from it (which by the way is the same reason that doesn't usually work either on the other context), but in this case only you benefit from it.

You basically want to leave your job without burning bridges and having certain assurances you'll be able to return back to it if you feel like it. From your point of view it's all the advantages without any of the risks, you get to search and evaluate other jobs and only after you get to decide what's better for you. It's important to understand here you're never choosing based on what's better for your previous employer, you'll only return if that's the best thing for you.

On contrast, your employer has all the disadvantages. You're gone but your workload is still there, they'll need to replace you with another resource which will have to be trained and brought up to speed on all the knowledge that you already have, putting projects at risk. On top of that, they switch a trusted, verified employee for a big unknown which may not deliver as well as you did. On top of that, you expect them to "save" you a job in case you decide to want to return.

You can, of course, put it forth but it will be considered a simple resignation and they will do the only thing that they can do, hire a replacement and not provide you with any guarantees whatsoever on whether you'll be able to come back. That doesn't mean you'll end the relationship on bad terms or would close yourself any doors, but you can't expect the company to have any deference to you when you're basically announcing you want to look out for something better but keep them as backup.

If you don't burn any bridges (you should not) then you'll likely be able to come back and ask, but that's no different from simply quitting a company in good terms anyway.

Note: In some countries (Spain that I know) there are legal provisions for certain companies that actually grant an exception where the company is legally bound to readmit you for a period of X years as long as you request your job back and the position still exists. This are very rare in practical terms and mostly applicable to the public sector.

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  • "No, "let's see other people" does not work on the workplace" I'd say it does, just like any relationship. The more specific point might be that it probably doesn't leave the door as open as the parties may try to make it sound. Just as the significant other is quite likely to move on from you, so is the company. – SemiGeek Jan 3 at 18:04
  • While it's a metaphore, "let's see other people" usually involves you are ocassionally still hanging out with your old partner... but you can't do that on the workplace unless you're a contractor or consultant in which case should already be doing it. Plus in this case is more like "I'm going to see other people and if I don't find anyone better I'll came back to you" – Jorge Córdoba Jan 3 at 18:06
  • I'm not looking for a safety net, as I am guaranteed to find job anywhere else or be taken back. Also, there are already two obvious advantages to the company : 1- having a trustworthy worker - cheap for 9 years and affordable after. 2- Significant organization improvements that from our experience (see the OP) can only be achieved when the company is put against the wall by resignations. – thi Jan 4 at 10:18
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    If you’re “guaranteed” to be taken back I don’t understand the question. Quit then, search for something better and get back if you don’t... – Jorge Córdoba Jan 4 at 10:38
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Is it reasonable, and if is, how can I do ?

It's reasonable to you but the company has already given you their answer. They don't care enough to fix these issues permanently while you're there, why would they cave when you've left?

Your best bet is, after securing an offer and giving your notice, to stress you're looking for an amiable exit, and that you'll do as much as you can to facilitate knowledge transfer while you're away. If you're asked why, you can tell them a variation of what you've already told them: stress and hectic schedule.

Don't mention salary unless that was the main reason why you quit. If they ever want you back, you'll be in a much better negotiating position by then.

When you give notice they might panic and start promising all kinds of things. If you agree, things will go back to what they are again in two weeks. So, if they do make promises, ask them to put it in writing with a target timeline.

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I want to quit my job, take time to think, look at other jobs, and maybe get hired back if both me and my boss feel like it. How can I proceed?

  • Quit your job.
  • Take whatever time you need to think.
  • Look at other jobs.
  • Decide if you actually want to get hired back.
  • If so, approach your former boss and ask if somehow the company wants to hire you back.
  • Then proceed accordingly.

But don't expect much.

Your premise is a bit hard to understand, but it seems to revolve around your thought that your company will change drastically once you are gone. That seems extremely unlikely.

Far more likely is that your company will find your replacement and go on pretty much as they always were.

Is it reasonable, and if is, how can I do ?

Personally, I don't find it reasonable. But we each need to find our own path.

Since you don't seem to want to adhere to the usual advice of "land your next job before you quit this one", just go forward with your plan, assuming that financially you are in a position to do so. I suspect you'll find that you don't actually want to go back. And even if you do, I suspect you'll find that they have moved on without you. It would be hard to expect anything else.

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  • "your company will change drastically once you are gone. That seems extremely unlikely." That already happened two times, but in rage quit mode, hence my initial idea. – thi Jan 4 at 10:20
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I agree with everything already posted, but I'd like to say: You could try taking a vacation for however much time you have accrued. That's the closest you'll ever get to the scenario you're describing. Assuming the company doesn't say, "You can't take vacation time, this isn't approved," I'd say you could probably get ~9 days in a row or so to figure things out (maybe 16 if you're really lucky and they let you take two weeks).

If that's not enough time, that's not enough time. But it could take a little bit of pressure off of you if you did it that way, with the intent to come back with your resignation at the end of the vacation time if you're unhappy. If they say, "No, you can't take time off, you're too essential!" then, well-- it sounds like all of your complaints are justified. Do you or would you really want to work somewhere that won't let you take any time off?

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    The OP is in France, s/he would almost certainly have had a vacation like that every year for the last 8 years working at the company (not during the first year). Legally s/he has to take at least 12 days in a row (out of a minimum of 30 legally mandated leave days) between May and October. – Relaxed Jan 4 at 2:23

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