August 28

Should I Go Back To My Former Employer?

Find A Career That Fits


Kristen Duever


by Kristen Duever, Career Researcher and Writer

Should you return to your former employer?
Here are four things to consider before making a move.

Ahhh, the good ol’ days!

Has your career reached a point where you are daydreaming about going back to a previous employer?

Perhaps you’re wondering whether that is really a good idea – or if it’s even possible.

Maybe your current employer isn’t quite the perfect fit you thought they would be. Or maybe you just miss the day to day challenges of your old job. Maybe you were simply happier with the people at your last place of employment.

Whatever the reason is for your desire to go back, there are some things you will need to consider carefully if you are thinking about returning to a former employer.

Here are four things to consider:

1. First things first - is it even possible to go back?

Believe it or not, some employers don’t like to re-hire former employees.

If you have an old employee handbook lying around, you might want to check it to see if it mentions anything about that.

Of course, you’ll also need to consider the circumstances under which you left as well. Were you still on good terms with your manager? Was there an atmosphere of “come back anytime” on your last day? If that’s the case, the door may be open for your return.

2. Remember why you left.

If you are going through a stressful period with your current employer, it can be easy to look back on your former employment with rose coloured glasses.

But the truth is that no job is perfect 100% of the time.

What were the reasons that you left? Were you starting to feel unfulfilled? Had you stopped growing because the job was no longer challenging enough?

If these problems were there before, they will most likely be there again and your return may not be sustainable in the long run.

On the other hand, if you left because you thought another opportunity would be more fulfilling – and you were wrong – you might be able to return with a new appreciation for the job.

3. Consider why you want to leave your current employer?

Before you make any decisions that will affect your long term career path, it is important to get to the root of why you are considering the change.

If you find you’re on an emotional rollercoaster, it’s helpful to build skills that help you connect your head and your heart.

Once you’re feeling more balanced it will be clearer as to what you have to offer your employer and why you are choosing one employer over the other. Personal growth is essential if you want to advance but it is not always comfortable.

Ask yourself whether you are moving to a position where you can grow or running away from one. There are many valid reasons why you might choose to return to your old job but trying to escape from a temporary uncomfortable situation that will benefit you in the long run should not be one of them.

This will likely be a big decision for you, and it can be helpful to get some perspective from a qualified career coach.

4. Do your research!

Finally, if you have made the decision that you would prefer to go back to your old job you should do some research to determine what you will be going back to – especially if you have been away for a while.

For example, is your old manager still there? Is the company still under the same ownership? Have they expanded or reduced the products or services that they offer? All of these factors can have a big influence on the working atmosphere.

The possibility that your old job won’t be “the same” needs to be considered.

While much of this information may be easily discoverable with a visit to the company website or a quick call to reception, your best source is often a former colleague that you have kept in touch with.

Ask them how things are going with company. And if you really trust them, you might confide that you are considering coming back and then gauge their reaction.

The answer to the question “should you return to a former employer” isn’t a simple yes or no.

It requires some soul searching to uncover the real reasons you are considering the move and it requires you to be honest with yourself about whether returning to your former employer will actually address those reasons.

Only after you have done this will you be able to make a reliable judgement about whether you should make the move.

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