How to Get a Job at Your Old Employer

What to Do When You Want to Re-Join an Organization You Left

Job turnover is normal. In fact, today, it’s at an all-time high. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, in 2020, 47 million people were estimated to have voluntarily quit their jobs. That’s a steady increase from around 28 million people in 2018.

While most workers are likely to change jobs over the course of their careers, there may come a time where you’re interested in working for a former employer again. You might find yourself wanting your old job back or realize the organization you left was one that aligned with your values.

There’s a term for employees who voluntarily left a job at an organization and rejoin at a later date. “Harvard Business Review” calls them “boomerang employees.”

Boomerang employees can benefit companies. Your former employer may have wanted you to stay when you left for a new opportunity. Having you return cuts down on onboarding and training time, which saves the employer money and resources.

If you’ve quit a job and find yourself wanting to return to your old company or position, use this guide to increase your likelihood of being hired back on and becoming a boomerang employee yourself.

First: Consider How You Left

You’ll have a better chance of getting hired back on if you left your old company on good terms. If there was sourness when you departed and you haven’t kept in touch with anyone from your old company, the climb to get back in will probably be more difficult.

Hopefully when you left, you submitted a respectful resignation letter and had an amicable exit interview. Think back to how those interactions went, so you can pick back up where you left off as you apply with the company again.

Use the language from your letter and/or interview as a way to break the ice when you approach your former company. Remind them of how you left on good terms so they’ll be more receptive when you contact them again.

Follow Job Application Best Practices

Next, take into account why you’re applying to the company again. Did you see a job posting online? Did your former company contact you to come back? Did a former coworker refer you to a job opening?

Note why you’d like to come back in a cover letter or when you reach out to the hiring manager. Don’t rush through the cover letter or resume writing process. Treat applying to your old employer as you would any job. Taking a prior relationship for granted and skimping on effort when you’re applying again could negatively impact your likelihood of being hired back on.

Some job application best practices to keep in mind:

  • Optimize your resume so that it’s relevant to the role you’re applying for.
  • Proofread a resume and cover letter so it’s free of spelling and grammatical errors before sending it.
  • Update your LinkedIn profile with relevant keywords, complete job summaries and skills.

Also, make sure to follow all the directions that are included in the job posting for what you’re applying for. If there isn’t a public one available, ask whomever you’re applying with what they prefer you submit and how.

Practice Your Interview

Even though you’ve worked there before, you may be interviewing with new people this go-around. You may be making a first impression on some potential new coworkers, so it’s important to prepare for the interview.

Practice answering interview questions with someone you trust who can provide you with feedback. You can also work with an interview coach who can advise you on how to prepare for today’s job searches and interviews, since things may have changed since the last time you interviewed.

Also, be prepared to explain why you left and why you want to come back. Practice how you’ll frame your departure and your desire to return in a positive light. Know how you’ll highlight the contributions you’ll make if you can return. Be prepared to explain why you won’t be a flight risk if you come back.

Ensure You’re a Good Fit

During the application and interview process, you should also seriously consider if the role you’re applying for is truly a good fit for where you are in your career. Going back to an old employer may bring a sense of comfort. But if you end up wanting to leave again soon after you’re hired, that can damage your professional reputation and waste your and the employer’s time.

Make sure you gain a good understanding of the role expectations and how the company has evolved since you’ve left, in terms of operations and culture. Ask questions during the interview to gain a better understanding of how you’ll fit in if you’re hired this time.

If throughout the process you start to question returning, it may be better to withdraw your application and move on from the company. You can also consult with a career coach to gain an objective point-of-view on whether or not the move to return to an old employer is good for your career goals.

Thinking About Returning to an Old Employer?

Approaching a former employer for a new job or your old position back is increasingly common today. If doing so helps you find more meaning and happiness in your career, it’s worth considering.

You’ll want to maintain good relationships throughout the process, even if you don’t get rehired. Since this situation can be a bit more complicated than the traditional job search, contact HiConsulting Services if you’d like to discuss strategy to regain employment with a former employer.