Ever Wanted To Go Back?


Over this past weekend, I had a conversation with a friend of mine that reminded me of the importance of always leaving an employer on good terms.

Seems that some time ago, this woman had a position with a company that she enjoyed and performed well at, but as happens from time to time, the opportunity presented itself to take some additional education. Additional learning is always a good thing, because not only does it keep the little grey cells amused and vibrant, but it also can prepare you for new career moves. Such was the case here, where upon completion of her education, she moved from one line of work into another; to doing work that she was now recently qualified to do.

So, she gave notice, left on good terms and started the job. However, as it turns out, she told me that the new job also came with some unexpected disappoints that she did not foresee. For one thing, she moved from a line of work with a great deal of social interaction into another where she could literally go for a couple of days without others seeking her out, and her social interaction dropped immensely. Imagine going from a job where you interacted with people a great deal to say, a job where you crunched numbers in a fairly isolating cubicle. Now add to that the reality that even if you wanted to get up and chat with others, every single other employee seemed to actually enjoy the focused number crunching and they didn’t really see value in chatting or like you, want to engage in it.

Well, a growing realization then happened in this case; that being that on the old happiness meter, she realized that with no real passion or interest in the numbers game, she had been better off in the previous job. With this awareness, it became more and more evident that a return to her previous employer would result in a greater work satisfaction, and that in turn would be greater satisfaction in general. With a supportive spouse supporting her decision, she applied to a vacancy posting, and today goes back to the previous employer.

The wisdom to leave on good terms in this case, means that the option to return is always there. When she left originally, had she burned her bridges and slammed the employer or worse her colleagues, going back may not have been an option. Whether its courage or humility or even just a dose of reality, sometimes we realize that what we had is better than what we have, and there isn’t any shame in going back. In fact, returning to an employer may make you appreciate a job more.

Imagine the resume with a job you’ve held, then another job, and then you’re sitting down with an interviewer who works for your original company. You should anticipate being asked why you want to return after leaving. What a chance to speak about your growing appreciation for the work you did, the value of it now grown in your view, and that you may bring additional insight to the work that you previously didn’t. If you left on good terms, your additional experience or education as in this case, may be an asset that makes you more valuable.

Can you go back to a job where you’ve burned a bridge? While technically the answer is yes, you might find you have to wait a long time until people you badmouthed  leave themselves. Re-building a bridge takes a lot of time and effort; and will never work if those on the other side aren’t building on their side to meet you half way.

If you are considering leaving your employer, why not ask in confidence what the company’s policy is with respect to re-hires? Would you be welcomed back (assuming your performance is good)? Would you start at the bottom or where you had progressed to? Would seniority be given up? Are there any other people working there who have left and returned? If not, that could mean the grass is really greener elsewhere, or it could mean that the company frowns on hiring former employees. Find out first!

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