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The Layoff Tales: 'It's not wise to burn your bridges'

April 15, 2009
We asked Get Ahead readers to send their layoff tales and we are getting mails from employees belonging to different sectors of the Indian economy.

In the 30th part of this series engineer Anuj Doshi*, tells the story of how he was fired immediately after his management assured him of the company's bright future. Nevertheless, he believes in maintaining cordial relations with his ex-employers.

Name: Anuj Doshi (*name changed on request)
Company/Sector: Engineering
Qualifications: BE (Mech) with MBA (Systems & HR) and post diploma in Tool Design
Work experience: 16 years


I was employed in a European engineering firm. In fact I was responsible to expand their business in India by founding their R&D operations here by employing a few people under me. The company spent a lot of money and time on us in training in Europe. We did a lot of hard work to analyse the market in India for their products, and were able to reveal a big potential here.

How I lost my job:

But then sudden we get the news that our department will be closed, lock, stock and barrel. We weren't given any time to even think about it. We were sent packing our bags the same day. The irony is that, this news came to me as a bolt from the blue, just when I sat down to attend a meeting to discuss our project schedule!

This angered me because of the total lack of clarity in the thoughts of the management, as it had spent a considerable amount of time and money on training and did not even think of utilising all the knowledge and the potential in the team.

The management explained to us that we were sent home only because of the economic compulsions and not because of our performance, which they acknowledged was of the highest order. But this reassurance was hardly a balm on our wounded selves.

How it affected me

It had a devastating effect on me, since my younger daughter is joining school next academic year and I am afraid how I can find enough resources to maintain my family of five dependants.

But the only silver lining was that the company was good enough to keep us on their rolls till the notice period with the salaries, to help us maintain our job status in the market even though we were not to attend office.

Lessons learnt:

  • Never be taken in by all the assurances given in the so called 'information sharing' meetings, for they had assured us in just the previous meeting that the company has a great vision and in fact wanted to expand our department further! These assurances slightly put us at ease and hence were not prepared for such an eventuality.
  • It is always better to have a parallel stream of income even if employed full time, as then financially we need not be at the mercy of any company. Most companies stipulate in the appointment order that the employees are not supposed to be indulging in any other business or employment (even part time), but when giving the boot, it doesn't even think of giving any advance notification. Our people are happy to import all the hire and fire employee practices of western countries, but without offering the social security system that they enjoy.
  • Develop your other skills or hobbies that will provide you with some sort of income as well, apart from passing time. It will be very handy in such circumstances. I have found an avenue in utilising my writing skills, if not to earn any thing substantial, but to keep myself occupied and enjoy an experience I couldn't otherwise have had.
  • Always maintain a good network of friends and well wishers in all the companies that you worked for. This healthy network is what has given me hope. They have provided me with a lot of moral support and I am looking at offering my skills as a freelancer, till I land a proper job.
  • It is not a bad option to find some employment, whether it is career-oriented or not until the crisis blows over or the right kind of job comes by, instead of just sticking to the guns. This is the time to broaden the perspective and give value to 'dignity of labour'.
  • Last but not the least, do not come out abusing or treat your company bosses with harsh words, for it is not wise to burn bridges on both ends. Who knows, chances are we could meet the same people later on and that could work to our advantage, if we part with dignity.

    Hope my story helps in imparting important lessons to a few people who have been laid off or those who are on tenterhooks.

    Illustration: Dominic Xavier

    Do you have a layoff tale to tell?

    Have you lost your job? Do you know someone who has lost her/his job recently and is trying to come to terms with the situation?

    If you, your friends or relatives have a layoff story to tell, to inform readers about the lessons that you have learnt, please write to us at Your name and identity will not be disclosed unless you want it to.

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