How to Get Your Old Job Back: Tips and Tricks

Let’s say you hop to a new job, only to discover the (proverbial) grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence. You want your old job back, but is that even possible? There’s no shame in wanting to return to a former employer. In that spirit, we have a few tips and tricks to help you ease right back into your old office chair.

Before you decide to approach your old employer, there are a few considerations. First (and most obvious): Does the company have a job opening? Maybe your spot hasn’t been filled yet, or a similar one has opened up. You don’t want to be the person wedging their way back into the company when there’s no room for you.

Also, be objective about whether or not you’ve given your current employer a fair shot. Office cultures can be different, and roles are sometimes not what you imagined during the application process… but sometimes it’s worth hanging around to see if you settle in.

Finally, make sure you truly enjoyed the work at your old job, and that you were a good culture fit. Sometimes we quit for strange reasons, and the job we left behind was actually the best fit for us. Did you actually fit in there?

If you can answer all these questions to your satisfaction, here’s how to (potentially) get your old job back:

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”On-Boarding Me Will Be Easy”

You know the system; you’ve seen the doofy training videos; and you’re aware the bathroom on the third floor is less crowded. The Chinese takeout around the corner won’t deliver past the lobby, and the treatment on the windows makes the afternoon sun unbearable in the northeast corner of the building.

Yeah. You know it all.

You’re also aware which reports go to which manager, how the software stack works, and how to keep the morning stand-up meetings from bogging down. Position yourself as a piece of the puzzle that slides right back into place seamlessly, and you’ll have the attention of your old bosses as well as HR.

“When re-hiring a former employee, the time investment that goes into bringing them back into the fold is diminished significantly, with major time-consuming and costly efforts, such as interviews, training, and integrating them into the company culture taking little or no time at all,” Michael Johnson, Principal at Bridgepoint Consulting, tells Dice.

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“I’ve Gained Valuable Experience”

If you’ve been away from your former employer for a year or more, you’ve got an argument that you’ve gained valuable experience. But this talking point can be a tricky one: You’re essentially saying someone else gave you a shot that your old boss wouldn’t, or allowed you to branch out into a new way of doing things.

Even if those things are true, taking the position that you’ve become more thoughtful of the company’s processes as a result of being elsewhere can prove a winner. Whatever your experience, it was positive, and you shouldn’t feel shame about it.

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”I Know What I’m Coming Back To”

Let your bosses know you understand the value of the company you left. Whether that be the culture, stability, software stack, process, benefits (or all of these things), make sure your former employer understands you know the company’s worth to you.

Returning to a place you miss can galvanize your resolve to do your best work. It’s okay to admit you didn’t know what you had until it was gone, and that leaving was a mistake. Chances are, if your former bosses are even talking to you, they feel the same way.

A Bonus Tip on How to Get Your Old Job Back

You want to come back, and chances are good that your former employer is hearing you out. But you must avoid one major pitfall: begging.

Frame your return as a win-win for yourself and the company you’re coming back to (and don’t do it by bashing your current employer). You’re a value-added re-hire, not someone who desperately hates their current job. Ideally, your return is exciting for everyone there, not a signal you’ve come back with your tail between your legs.

In other words, the company needs you as much as you want to return, and that’s how you should frame the discussion. Neither side is in a position to play hardball, but you can come to an amicable solution that fits both of your needs.