What to consider when returning to a former employer

Work Wisdom

What to consider when returning to a former employer

Sometimes after the dust settles and you’ve begun a new job with a new company, a little remorse sets in. Maybe life isn’t that much greener at a new company. Or you miss your colleagues. Regardless of the reason, sometimes you want to return to your old job.

Same is true for the company. Sometimes after an employee leaves, the company realizes how valuable the employee was to the team. Or they’re having an exceptionally hard time finding someone with a particular skill. Sometimes companies don’t realize how good they had it until an employee leaves.

So, you and your former employer think about getting back together.

But a little word of advice: Before you consider reapplying, it’s important to make sure this isn’t just some fleeting thought and you really want to work for your old employer. Take a moment to ask yourself these six questions:

  1. Why did you decide to start looking for a new job? Not why did you leave: Maybe you got more money or a better commute to work. That might be different from the reason you started looking in the first place. Identifying that catalyst can help you make sure it doesn’t happen again.
  2. What did you love about your former job? And do you have it in your new job? List the top 3-5 things you loved about your old job. Then ask yourself if you have them — or will be able to get them — in your new job. Sometimes the things we miss are things we just need to wait a little while for in a new role.
  3. What did you hate about your former job? Again, do you have it in your new job? Now it’s time to do the same exercise as in #2 but with a negative spin. Think about those 3-5 things you didn’t like about your old job and ask yourself if they’ll be there if you return. If the answer is “yes,” are you prepared to deal with it?
  4. Did you get along with your boss? Co-workers? Sometimes those people who aggravate us when we’re working with them become “not so bad” after we leave. If you return, can you deal with all the personalities? And are you prepared to make some changes in your work habits to get along better with the team?
  5. Will you give your old job some time? There’s a very good chance some of your frustrations still exist in your old job. One thing the company is going to want to know is are you going to resign again at the first sign of frustration. Think about how you’re going to answer that question and be prepared.
  6. Why should the company rehire you? The last thing anyone wants is to be in a situation where rehiring a former employee feels like a mistake. Come prepared to talk about why you left, what you miss and how things will be if you return. Be prepared to talk about the knowledge and skills you’ve gained while you’ve been away. Show the organization you’ve made good use of your time.
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