Familiar Shores - Returning to Your Former Employer

By David Smith

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As you enthusiastically approach your job search campaign, no doubt you have scoured all available resources, from job boards; agencies; the press and industry journals, you have looked everywhere!

Sooner or later, enthusiastic jobseekers find that they have exhausted all available advertised opportunities within their travel-to-work area.

So what next?

Have You Considered….?

Mixed into your job search will very likely be a thorough inspection of “I’d love to work at…’ organisations, and a number of speculative enquiries, but have you thought about returning to your former employer?

At this point, you are either staring dreamily; mentally exploring the possibility of returning to familiar shores with fondness. Alternatively, you could be shuddering at the very thought of it…in which case, I apologise for reminding you of such a dark spell!

Weighing Your Options

Let’s assume you would like to at least explore the possibility! This may be a good time to remember your departure! If it was accompanied by much back-patting and well-wishing; with perhaps even a ‘you’re welcome back anytime!’ [even if this seemed a tad platitudinous in nature!] then you at least have something on which to build.

Hang on though! There are a few things that you should consider before you leap head-first, potentially making this avenue of opportunity into a permanent cul-de-sac!

Do Your Research

Here I go again….blathering on about research, but I make no apologies for suggesting that you be as fully prepared as possible. Timing is everything!

Before we continue, I would just suggest that you stare off into space again for a couple of moments; I’ll even supply a cascade of harp music – as per a 1970s episode of Columbo!

If you were successful in returning to your former life and colleagues; are you likely to experience a classic case of déjà vu in your second week back in the saddle? Suddenly remembering why you had to exit your job in the first place?

If you were to make a second exit, bad feelings may follow you – also leaving you with a short spell of work on your CV to wrestle out of during your next job interview.

Test the Water

Reaching out to one or two trusted former colleagues is your first step. Is your timing right? What is the current climate and general state of affairs? A bit of inside information is likely to prove extremely helpful during your preparation stage.

If your timing looks good and it looks like you have the green light; depending on how long it has been since you left the company, your first approach may be your old boss or manager, but rather than making a call, which could make him or her feel like you have put them on the spot, send an email outlining your interest in returning to the fold, with a short explanation about why. Give them a chance to mull it over and organise a meeting with all concerned about the possibility of putting up the ‘welcome back’ banners.

Patience is key here; don’t rush it!

Of course, if it has been a few years since you worked there, your preliminary enquiries with former colleagues should include some questions about who is at the helm these days, just to make sure you get in touch with the right person.

Surely I Don’t Need a CV?

Oh but you do!

Obviously, this company knows all about you; they very likely have several years of performance reviews and your former history on file somewhere! But now is the time to show them how you have grown and progressed since leaving, and also what new value and insight you have developed that you will bring to your former empire.

Don’t get too creative here! They do know you, so keep it real, but be really enthusiastic about your progression, without making them feel like you think leaving them in the first place was the best decision you ever made professionally.

This is also a great opportunity to remind them of your achievements while you were with them. This will serve as a great reminder of what a significant loss it was to them when you left! [Obviously, don’t use this exact phraseology; it may come across as a pinch over-confident!]

Be Ready to Squirm

At some point, you ARE going to be asked for your reasons for leaving! This might be quite a tough area to navigate, but rather than focus [too much] on why you had to get out, really emphasise what you have learned since then. Focus on how you have grown in the interim. The message here is ‘if I say [whatever you decide to say], how will it sound to the other party?’

You could even pre-empt the question in your application, focus on why you want to come back, rather than too much about why you left in the first place.

‘To Do’ Checklist

Check the company website and Social Media feeds for new information to support your application.

Verify how the land lies by connecting with a few former colleagues. Time to dust off your Linkedin profile!

Dig out your old performance reviews to get some excellent content for your new CV.

Don’t forget to picture your return and give yourself a reality check to make sure it is what you really want…let me know if you need any harp music!

I hope this was helpful, please Tweet me for any follow up, or connect with me on Linkedin, or drop me an email

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