This is a pure curiosity question, inspired by questions I have seen here.

In the USA, it is better to stay with a job while searching for another one, and only resign with a definite written agreement on the new job. It maintains continuous income, and employers tend to favor employed applicants. A responsible employee will give a couple of weeks notice, but even that is often not enforceable.

I have seen the same advice given to people in India.

From my reading of discussions here, I see a couple of differences that may matter. Notice periods tend to be a lot longer, and a lot more strongly enforced. The employee needs a relieving letter from the old employer to start the new job, and any delay in getting that can delay the new job start.

Given that, I would expect there to be an advantage to having already quit, and being able to say "I can start working for you next week", rather than "I can start working for you in three months."

In the experience of people who have been involved in job searches in India, as employer or employee, which is better, to currently have a job or to be free to start work immediately?

  • "any delay in getting that can delay the new job start." Oh God, not this again. I am tired of explaining to people that this is wrong. I think I should just give up and let them live with whatever misconceptions they have.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 6:00
  • @MaskedMan As I said, all I know about this is gleaned from discussions here. Can you suggest, or even make, an appropriate edit to correct any misconceptions? Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 6:03
  • Yeah, I could, but what is the point? People will still cling on to their misconceptions no matter how often I try. There have been some people here in the past who have tried to teach me Indian culture from a book written by some American author, despite pointing out that I am Indian. They even "corrected" my "misunderstanding" of Indian culture based on that book.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 6:07
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    This is not an answer because I'm not from India. Where I live, we have longer notice periods too. Companies just work with that. And If you actually say "I'm available right now" most will be happy, but struggle with all the paperwork and probably take weeks to get it done anyway because they are used to having months to get it done. so being available immediately is providing an advantage if the company is very specifically looking to fill the spot immediately and knowing this is rare, most don't.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 6:25
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    @MaskedMan I would truly love to see you give an answer to this question.
    – Jane S
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 6:27

2 Answers 2


I hail from India and my experience as been as follows

  1. Most companies understand your need to have a long notice period. They enforce similar notice periods of "two months" or so and hence they understand the expectation. That said, they do encourage you to negotiate with your managers to reduce the notice period (which can be reduced if the manager agrees e.g. One of my reportees's requested me to reduce his notice period and since his deliverables in the project had been done and and all the knowledge transfers done, i was able to reduce it to one month and 10 days from the two months.. Also another thing to note is that if the person has a lot of accumulated leaves, he can offer to exchange those leaves for a reduced notice period (this again depends on the discretion of the company and the manager).

  2. With regards to the job search, you are looked upon more favorably if you are currently employed : Unfortunately the stigma is that if you are not employed, you must have done something wrong and companies are cautious( Personal references count a great deal) about why you left your previous job. Obvious exceptions are when a lady is returning from maternity leave or someone is returning from a job role abroad or if a lady is returning after taking some time off after marriage. Also gaps exceeding one or two months are strongly scrutinized and hence lack of a job might raise a red flag (however incorrect it might be).

  3. Employees in India are generally risk averse : What I mean by this is that employees generally will not give up their old job (irrespective of how bad it is until they have something lined up). Once they have two or three competing offers or one dream offer, thats when they generally put down their papers. There are exceptions like one of my colleagues who quit to become a freelancer but those cases are generally rare.

  • I can see how this works for planned project - you just start searching for employees two or three months earlier than a US employer would. I can also see it working for employees giving notice. What do you do if an employee suddenly drops out of the job market, due to illness, injury, emigration...? Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 17:48
  • The same logic applies,you put our a job profile but specify that preference will be given to early joiners. While you might not have too many takers due to the restriction of long notice periods , there might be someone who can reduce the notice period or join early or even pay out the notice period if the new offer is good enough.
    – Mervin
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 19:13
  • +1 for #2. I will add that often employment contracts also prohibit an employee from job-hunting unless they are already on their notice period. Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 9:23
  • @RohitChatterjee I am sorry but I have never seen any employment contracts which forbids people from searching for jobs unless they are on their notice periods..
    – Mervin
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 17:47

I'm not familiar with India.

In general for most positions except very high level ones from the employers point of view all else being equal an unemployed person is better. They start whenever you want them to, and you can negotiate from a stronger position.

So since it's basically a competition, from the employees point of view you negotiate from a stronger position if you're not desperate for a job, but you may lose out to someone who is desperate and will take less pay and jump when they're told to.

Personally when I hire, I want them to start when I'm ready, I'm not interested in waiting while they sort their lives out if I can help it. I would not wait three months for instance. I'd be unlikely to wait for 3 weeks if I could find someone else. But I'm not in India.

  • 13
    -1 for answering a question specifically about India with "I'm not familiar with India". Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 9:29
  • I know the generic advice, but I am trying to find out whether or not less usual conditions in India make a difference. Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 9:50
  • @PhilipKendall common sense transcends borders, however I'll delete my answer just to keep you happy as soon as it gets 50 downvotes (I'm trying to break my record)
    – Kilisi
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 19:21
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    I thought the common sense balanced out the lack of knowledge about India, but since you're looking for downvotes, I obliged. Still, you may need to provide a much worse answer to succeed in achieving 50 downvotes. Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 21:59
  • My own record is my answer that got 9 downvoted, which I am very proud of and will NOT delete because I stand up for my principle. What is your record ? Commented Mar 14 at 9:04

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