stressed woman working at the office

You left your last job for what you thought was your dream job only to find out that you were wrong. Or, maybe it was your dream job, but the new company was awful to work for. You want to turn back time and get your old job back. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. In fact, boomerangs (employees who leave a company and eventually return) have never been more popular. According to the Wall Street Journal, boomerangs accounted for 4.5% of all new hires among companies on LinkedIn in 2021. Here are some tips to help you successfully get your old job back.

How and When To Contact Your Former Employer

Before you contact your employer, prepare as you would an interview. Your former employer will have a lot of questions on why you left the company/position in the first place and may have some animosity toward you. When you feel that you are well prepared to speak with your former employer, first send an email. You don’t want to catch your old manager off guard with a phone call. A well written email asking for time to speak will allow your manager to gather his/her thoughts for a better conversation.

Good Terms vs Bad Terms

You need to figure out how you left it with your former employer. If you left your former employer on good terms, you will obviously have a greater chance of being rehired than if you left on bad terms. Did you give enough notice or did you blindside your employer? Did you thank them for the opportunity to work for them or did you let them know all the bad things about working for the company? Leaving on bad terms does not necessarily mean that you will not be rehired, but you need to have a good explanation prepared because your employer will ask.

Questions Your Former Employer May Ask

Why Did You Leave?

Explaining why you left your old position may be difficult. Most employees leave for a higher salary, but that is not necessarily the reason you should give your prior employer. If your employer wants to welcome you back but can’t match that salary, you become a flight risk . . . again. Your employer may be hesitant to rehire you. You also want to keep away from saying anything negative about the company or the employees.

Be honest with your old employer and let them know you made a mistake. A good answer will focus on your development or external circumstances. Leaving a position because you wanted more responsibilities is an acceptable answer. Be prepared to explain that once you were in your new position, it was not what you had expected and that you missed several aspects of your old position. Be prepared to further explain. If you left your old job for an external circumstance, i.e. it was closer to your child’s school for easier pickup/drop off, explain how that has changed or why it is now not an issue.

Why Should We Rehire You?

Companies know that there are benefits in rehiring old employees. The onboarding costs less and the former employee already has a general knowledge of the business. But, that doesn’t mean you are guaranteed your old position. While already having a general knowledge of the business is a plus and worth mentioning, you need to convince your former employer that you were and still are the best person for that job and that you will not soon leave again. If you were an excellent employee in the past, highlight your achievements. Talk about your positive relationships with both co-workers and clients. If you gained any additional skills while away from the company, now is the time to display them.

Why Do You Want To Leave Your Current Employer?

This is your opportunity to discuss how your prior position is a better fit for you and why you would prefer to work for your old employer, without saying anything negative about your current employer. Talk about why it is better to work for your old employer. This can be anything from ethics to the work environment. Just as you discussed in the “why should we rehire you?” question, mention how you miss several aspects of your old position and list them. Discuss why you are a better fit for your old employer and how that can benefit them.

Getting your old job back will require convincing your old employer that you made a mistake and why you are still the best person for the job. If you find out that your old job is not available, don’t give up. Reassure your old employer that you really want to work for the company again and ask if there are any other positions available that would make a good fit.

The words and other content provided in the blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as professional advice (please read the Terms and Conditions for additional information).


Alicia Lillegard, Esq.

Alicia Lillegard has over 20 years of experience in employment law, human resources and insurance, working with with large blue chip companies, startups, and not-for-profit organizations. Ms. Lillegard is currently Managing Director of New England Human Capital, a human resources consultancy which advises small and midsize businesses on Human Resources compliance, including employment procedures, employee relations and employee benefits. She holds degrees from Loyola University Chicago and John Marshall Law School.

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