Returning to an Employer You Once Left

Returning to an Employer You Once Left

By: Daniel Steingold | June 19, 2016

Many of us will run into an interesting dilemma in our careers: we will want to return to a job we once left. Although we made the decision at some point to leave, sometimes circumstances change.

For example, maybe we realize after having worked somewhere else that our old job wasn’t so bad. Maybe our gripes with our old employer have disappeared. Perhaps a new position that we highly desire is now available at our previous employer.

Whatever the case, there are right and wrong ways to go about being a “boomerang”— a term that refers to individuals who return to an employer they once left.

This post will discuss the proper methods for handling a return to an old employer.

Talk to Former Coworkers

Talking to former coworkers can be one of the best ways to not only tell what positions, if any, are still open, but if you’d be welcomed back to the firm. Old coworkers can fill you in on any changes in company culture, hiring practices, and who serves as your competition.

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It is important to ask your old coworkers the nature in which your name came up in conversations since you left— i.e. you will want to know if it was in a positive or negative light.

If you learn that you haven’t been thought badly of and you left on good terms, you should consider reapplying. You should be even more sure of your decision if the firm specifically needs someone with your particular skillset.

On the other hand, if you get the sense that you’re persona non grata, don’t push coming back under most circumstances.

Have Good Reasons for Your Departure and Return

In general, if you have left an employer and are considering coming back, you need to have good reasons for both your initial departure and your return.

An important part of this is being able to explain how you’ve changed and how your circumstances have changed. It needs to be clear why you won’t just leave like you did last time.

You need to approach your potential return like a first interview; although your boss and coworkers already know you, they don’t completely— or often even partially— know why you left or are considering returning.

Approach Your Former Employer in Person

There is a simple psychological factor behind approaching your former employer in person: it signals that you have the courage and ability to openly and transparently speak about your motives in returning.

You should avoid calling or emailing your former supervisor to reobtain your former position. Absolutely avoid texting. Seeing your old employer in person also benefits you in that it puts the onus on them.

When visiting in person, it is important to dress properly. A suit, tie, slacks, and dress shoes will make you look the part.

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If visiting in person, you will need to accept the fact that you may have to wait awhile in meeting with your former employer. This usually applies to both the period from your initial point of contact to your appointment, and the time it takes to see the supervisor while present at your appointment.

When face-to-face, be prepared to calm your ego and don’t be afraid to beg for your old job. Begging is what it’ll often take.

During your meeting, emphasize how you’ve grown and changed— as aforementioned, you will need to demonstrate how this time will be different.

Be Willing to Accept a Demotion

Being willing to accept a decrease in both pay and stature is imperative; it helps show that you’re flexible, understanding, and willing to sacrifice.

It is important to remember that accepting a decrease in pay or stature isn’t necessarily a permanent measure. However, accepting these conditions may be necessary if you want to regain your erstwhile position.

It can be thought of from the company’s perspective: they will want to see that you’re committed and can still work effectively.

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On a final note, it is important to remember that it is fairly common to be a “boomerang.”

A study conducted last year by Kronos and found that 76 percent of 1,800 human resource executives and hiring managers polled were willing to hire former employees. Over half of respondents said they’d give “high” or “very high” priority to those who had already worked at their firm before.

And really, it makes sense. Training is usually minimal for boomerangs, they understand the company culture, and former employees know how to do the job, along with how to fulfill its concomitant expectations.

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