Tips On Going Back To An Old Employer

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz

Professional Human Resources (PHR) Certified

Deciding you want to pursue an opportunity with an old employer can be met with either skepticism by the company or enthusiasm.

How you originally left the employer will determine how your desire to return is received by them. Assuming you left in good standing, it is still important to address why you decided to leave in a way that makes them confident enough to hire you again.

Be Prepared To Do Your Research

No matter how long you have been gone from an organization, it is important you understand what has changed since you left. At any time, major organizational restructures can happen resulting in a much different place from the one you worked at.

Reach out to old colleagues who are still with the organization to get an idea of the current company climate and culture.

Make sure you want to pursue rehiring with the organization before you speak with any one formally.

Be Prepared To Reach Out

After you have submitted an application or resume for consideration, reach out to the appropriate parties and make them aware of your interest in returning to the company.

If you have remained professionally connected with an old supervisor or executive, it would be helpful to have a conversation with them as to why you are looking to come back.

Be open with those you stayed in touch with and be honest about why you want to return.

It is also a good idea to briefly address your renewed interest in the organization within the cover letter you provide.

Be Prepared To Answer Questions

When asked why you originally left your employer during the interview process, be sure to put a positive spin on the reason.

If you left to gain skills you could not gain at your old organization, say something like “I took a chance on an opportunity that allowed me to receive unique training. I’m eager to bring this knowledge and skill set back to your organization”.

What this does is it kindly lets them to know there was something lacking in your old job but that you respect the organization enough to want to bring your new talents back to them.

There are some reasons for resigning that your old employer will likely understand more than wanting to work for an organization with more prestige or in a position that offered more money.

For example: Many people consider leaving positions and companies because it no longer fits with their work-life balance, especially if the commute is particularly difficult.

If you left an organization for a job closer to home, make it clear that was why. Explaining you took a chance with a company that cut your commute in half may be understandable to them.

You can follow up by letting them know you now realize the longer commute was worth it to work for their organization.

Be Prepared To Negotiate

There was a reason you left your employer in the first place. Maybe it was pay, too few training opportunities or the lack of flexible work options.

If your old company is seriously considering taking you back, you have an opportunity to negotiate for what you felt was lacking before. Negotiating for better pay or other perks need to be handled carefully.

Understand that your former organization may feel as if they are doing you a favor by considering your candidacy for a position if you have not been gone for very long.

On the other hand, if you have been gone for a number of years and have honed a unique skill set they are interested in, realize that you have more negotiating power.

How much you are able to negotiate and request will depend entirely on the position you are being considered for as well as the length of time since you originally left the organization.

Be Prepared To Mend Relationships

If your former organization hires you back, there will be as many colleagues happy to see you return as there will be some who feel slighted.

When you left originally, your workload may have been pushed off onto others or they may have felt you did not provide them all the information they needed to do your job.

With these co-workers, you will need to work to mend your professional relationship.

Sit down with the old (and now new) members of your team and put forth the effort to understand the issues they endured when you originally left. Offer your knowledge and assistance as a way to gain their trust back.

Be Prepared To Have An Adjustment Period

Returning to an old employer will still require an adjustment period

While you may be somewhat familiar with the organization, expect that things have changed and you may need to relearn the job.

Be adaptable as you begin again with the organization and avoid looking back to how things used to be.

Look at the opportunity as a new start for both you and the employer.

About The Author

Robin Schwartz
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Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz is a PHR certified HR professional with a broad range of expertise including recruitment, performance management, employee relations and talent management. She leverages her years of experience in HR to bring functional change to organizational leadership and direction to management structures and employees.

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