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How to Ask for Your Old Job Back

By Maurie Backman - Feb 10, 2018 at 11:04AM

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Miss your former role? Here's how to have that potentially awkward conversation where you attempt to get it back.

Not only is job-hopping a common practice in the U.S. workforce, it's also a move that could end up benefiting your career immensely. But what if you end up leaving a decent job in pursuit of a better opportunity, only to find that you miss your former role?

It happens to more of us than you'd think, and if you're really regretting your decision to leave, you might consider asking for your old job back. That conversation, however, is a delicate one to have; here are some tips for approaching it.

Professional male and female sitting across from each other


1. Be honest

Chances are, when you worked for your last company, you built up a decent relationship with your boss -- enough so that you're able to even think about requesting your old job back. So when you have that conversation, don't make up some story about why your new role didn't work out. Rather, be honest with your manager about what went down, and why you're looking to return. Maybe your new position turned out to be boring, or you just didn't hit it off with your new manager. Either way, your old boss deserves an explanation, so be prepared to share.

2. Be willing to pay your dues

Returning to a former position after working elsewhere isn't the same as taking a brief leave of absence and jumping back in. In this situation, you actively made the decision to leave, and so you'll need to work harder to prove your loyalty. This means making it clear from the start that you're happy to go the extra mile if rehired, whether it be in the form of taking over tough projects or being that person to stay late to compile data once a week. Remember, even if you attained some level of seniority at your old company, you might now be faced with more of the grunt work. Accept that, and express that willingness clearly.

3. Remind your old company what you bring to the table

Maybe you managed to increase sales by 10% in a single quarter at your old job. Or maybe your troubleshooting skills helped decrease employee downtime significantly. No matter what made you a rock star at your last job, it never hurts to bring it up when you're seeking to resume that position. That said, you'll want to do so subtly. Don't shove your accomplishments down your manager's throat, but allude to them during that conversation.

For example, you might say something like, "I miss collaborating with great people to produce killer marketing copy." Doing so will remind your old boss that you were once indeed a master of marketing copy, but this way, you come off looking humble.

Though you might feel uneasy asking for your old job back, remember that if you resigned professionally, there's a good chance your previous employer will welcome you with open arms. But if you're lucky enough to land in that scenario, be ready to commit to being at that job for a reasonable period of time. That might mean staying put another six months, a year, or even longer, depending on the circumstances.

Though you don't have to sign up for a lifetime of employment, you should give your old company the courtesy of an extended stay. Not only will it help solidify your relationship with your former manager and colleagues, but it'll make you look just a bit less flighty on your resume.

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