GUEST COMMENT: I'm going on a sabbatical until Q1 2013

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Cambodia

I’ve worked in banking for nearly a decade, and its pleasures are starting to wear thin. Getting up stupidly early for the joy of being paid in over-valued stock doesn’t seem like a great deal. And I’m at the stage where the politicking and Russian roulette that have despatched so many of my colleagues over the years would seem trivial – if my compensation didn’t depend upon it.

In the circumstances, I’m thinking of taking some time out. Maybe 9-12 months: enough time to get some proper perspective. I'm not talking about one of the sabbaticals offered by the firm. I'm talking about a proper break. Bonuses are poor, so the opportunity cost will be limited. My only hesitation comes from the fact that with so many colleagues being chopped, I may miss an opportunity for quick promotion.

Going voluntarily should have several advantages. In the first place, I intend to be upfront with my boss and explain my intentions (a little focused travel, a little study). I anticipate he may offer me a chance to reconsider: a salary increase or a promotion. If the right counteroffer is forthcoming, I’ll put my plans on hold.

By going of my own accord (and making it clear that I have done so), I will also put some distance between myself and the redundant. I intend to tell two or three headhunters and a selected group of colleagues what I doing, allowing them to disseminate the truth rather than leaving things to guesswork.

I will also print off all previous copies of my appraisals, note down all publicly available information that will help my case (Q1 ECM issuance tables, for example, to demonstrate the lack of activity).

And while I’m away? I plan to engage in activities that will add value to my CV. Some of my time will be spent learning Arabic. I also plan to visit countries like Cambodia, which are tipped to develop fast in future.

I have no intention of returning to a period of protracted unemployment. My sabbatical will end in Q4 – in time for the first quarter hiring next year, and I will start proactively planning my return to work two months in advance. Approached with care, a sabbatical seems a very sensible option right now.

William Lowe is the pseudonym of a banker who is long in the tooth but short in patience with the industry in its current state

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