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The Great Regret: How to Ask for Your Old Job Back

In 2021, 47.4 million people quit their jobs as a part of the ‘Great Resignation.’ As this trend continues, an estimated 23% of American workers are reportedly continuing to look for new jobs in 2022. Regardless of the reasoning behind leaving a former role – be it burnout, changing industries or roles, seeking a higher salary, or among the many other motivators, it’s important to realize the grass may not always be greener on the other side.  

The last year has proven to be one of the hottest job markets to date; however, more and more workers who left for another role are now regretting it. 4.5% of hires within the U.S. in 2021 were boomerang employees, as compared to 3.9% in 2019.  

What’s dubbed the ‘The Great Regret’ is being experienced by a wide range of professionals for many reasons, whether it’s a rescinded job offer or realizing the promising new role wasn’t all that it was advertised to be. Yes, it can feel awkward and intimating to ask for an old job back after quitting, but it’s never out of the question if all ended on good terms. And at the other end, don’t assume the company will automatically re-offer the position. There are many factors at play.  

Whether it's going back to the same role or another position at a former company, here’s how to ask to come back.  


Reflect 


Consider what originally sparked the desire to leave the former role and what the motivators are now for wanting to return. Evaluate what changed about the company or role that makes it more enticing today, or if it is primarily internal motivators that have changed. Consider if returning could be a long-term move, or if similar issues from the past would come up again.  

 

Prep Speaking Points 


Returning to an old job will likely not feel quite the same, but if truly wanting to try again, the next step is speaking with former managers. If they are open to re-interviewing, here’s how to prepare. 

Before going into the conversation, have a ‘pitch’ prepared to assure them this decision has been thought out and whatever motivators sparked the decision to leave originally have since changed – and how/why. Be prepared to share how this time will be different and isn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision or a temporary fix.  

Create sample goals and a plan to hit the ground running in the first 90 days to share with leaders during the interview process. Having had time and distance to reflect on performance and what could have been improved can help create more well-rounded plans for growth moving forward. Consider management’s perspective and what hesitations they may have about offering the job back, and prepare to address them. 

 

Be Flexible 


Expect change. Depending on how long it has been, the role may have already been filled or team structure shifted, and the same position may no longer be available. Other teammates or managers may have left or shifted into new roles, as well, depending on how long the absence was for. If offered the prior role back, understand that there will likely be some changes to adapt to. If the same role isn’t available, consider if a similar role in a different department is available and would be a good fit – or outside of the department entirely.  

Keep in mind, management may need time to discuss the potential return, with additional interviews or conversations with other leaders. Be flexible and understanding.  

 

Make a Plan B  


Don’t assume the job will be offered back, as even top performers have no guarantee there will still be a spot for them. Companies and teams can change quickly. Always prepare a plan B as if the job wasn't offered. Respect the decision either way, and work to maintain a positive relationship while moving onto the next opportunity – whether that’s staying in the new role or hitting the job search.  

 

Prepare for Re-Entry 


If offered the job back, understand there may be some distrust to work through with teammates, managers, and other leaders after quitting and returning. Also understand the role, team structure, and responsibilities may have shifted, regardless of how much or how little time has passed. Adapting to these changes could take some time and effort. Over communicate with management on the adjustment back to get support as needed.  

 

For more tips on starting a new role successfully, click here. 

If seeking your next opportunity, view our open jobs here 

 

 

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