Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Returning to a Past Employer

You left a company and are now considering returning several months or years later. You wouldn’t be the first to request to be re-hired. In fact, companies are experiencing a new trend called “boomerang hiring,” which refers to the re-hiring of former employees.
Re-hiring a reliable and talented employee can be advantageous for the employer. The company usually considers this individual as a known entity—someone who knows the company and its culture and is more likely to ramp up quickly. The previous employee also benefits as well since he or she is already familiar with the company, its culture, and the work, thus minimizing the risk of the unknown.
Before you go too far down this planning path, though, carefully consider the following factors:
  • Be realistic: Your positive memories of the employer may be one-sided, particularly if you’re unhappy in your current job. Remind yourself of the reasons you left and ask yourself if those reasons would be different this time around. Create a pros-and-cons list about the company and prospective job.
  • Give ample time to new situations: Before jumping back into your old job, assess whether you’ve allowed ample time for success in your current situation—a new job, a stay-at-home parenting situation, or other opportunity. Transitions and changes are often difficult and require time to adjust.
  • Leverage established relationships: Reach out to contacts at your previous employer to ask about insight into current job opportunities. They may also consider putting in a good word with the hiring manager.
  • Be honest and humble: Your previous employer will appreciate an honest, direct, and humble approach to your reasons for wanting to return to the company. For example, you might explain that the newer opportunity wasn’t what you had hoped, and you enjoyed your previous work and the company culture.
  • Remember, change is inevitable: It’s likely that the company you once worked for has changed, including the people, its processes, the customers, etc. If you do return, don’t get stuck reminiscing or desiring to move backwards to the way things were done in the past.
  • Prepare for a lukewarm welcome: Some of your co-workers may challenge or chide you about your return, particularly if you return at a higher level and salary. At the very least, be prepared to answer co-workers’ well-intentioned questions about your reasons for returning.

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