The call I dreaded came. Jim, a long-term employee of 17 years, had just given his notice to quit the organization I working for as a recruiter. His job would be hard to fill because he had an excellent track record and his team loved him. A month later, I received word that Jim expressed interest in coming back.
If you find yourself wanting to return to a job you left, here are some questions to consider.
1. Why did you leave?- You left your job for a reason. Would it better to go back to a job you resigned from or to look for another one? Try writing a list of pros and cons of going back. Often writing a list helps to clarify your thoughts so that you can decide if returning is the best decision.
2. How did you leave? If you gave proper notice and worked diligently through your final weeks, you are much more likely to be rehired. If you tended to slack off knowing you were leaving, your chances aren’t as good.
Hopefully your exit was nothing like the now famous JetBlue incident. In 2010, flight attendant Steven Slater, a 20 year veteran of the airline, had an altercation with a passenger. In response, Slater blew his top, spewed profanity, and ranted about quitting. He then activated the emergency chute, and slid out to the tarmac. He was later charged with reckless endangerment and criminal mischief.
3. What value can you offer? An organization will hire you back only if it makes good business sense. Consider what you can bring to the table that a new hire could not. What can you do to save the company time, money, or resources? How will you bring in new revenue or clients? Your former employer will also to be need to be convinced that you have a strong commitment to the company. Trust needs to be re-established.
4. How will colleagues react? Co-workers may have mixed reactions. Are you prepared to answer a lot of questions as to why you want to come back? Your reputation may also be dented. Are you are willing to go above and beyond expectations to mend fences?
5. Do you have a plan B? Your position might already have been filled. If that is the case, would you be willing to take another job at your former company? Would you be willing to take a pay cut if necessary?
Going back to your former job is awkward, but sometimes, it can be the best decision. In Jim’s situation, he quit to take a job with a friend that was starting a new business. Jim soon realized that the business wasn’t his cup of tea. Jim approached his former director with a proposal of how he could continue saving the department money and resources. Because Jim had been a stellar employee who left on good terms, he was reinstated to his position. I remember asking Jim how it was to be back and he said “Leaving was the dumbest thing I ever did, but coming back was the smartest.”