If you're looking for work, you may be considering the possibility of returning to a job you've previously held. “Boomerang Employees” – those who return to a previous job – aren't unusual. According to a study by Workplace Trends, 15% of employees have returned to a former employer at least once. They also report that 40% of workers would consider returning to a previous place of work. Meanwhile, boomerangers may have an edge in the hiring process: 76% of HR professionals said they're more open to the possibility of rehiring former employees than they were before, and 56% of them say they'd give them high-priority consideration.
But is going back to an old job right for you? Keep reading for four points to consider if you're thinking about becoming a boomeranger.
1) Why did you leave?
When you left your previous job, you had your reasons – some of which should give you more pause before returning than others. If you left on good terms, perhaps leaving for the sake of school, family matters, or a great professional opportunity (in short, things that had nothing to do with the job you were leaving) then this may not be a major issue.
However, if you left because you were unhappy, consider that a red flag. Odds are the things that made you dislike the position are still there. Still, change is possible. Make a note of the things you took issue with and investigate whether they've changed. If necessary, don't be afraid to ask hiring managers these questions directly. Even if there hasn't been any change, they may prove to be valuable points in negotiating your salary, benefits, work arrangement, or responsibilities should you return.
2) Will it advance your career?
A major question you should consider when it comes to returning to an old job is how it will fit in your career trajectory. Job hopping has become the norm as a strategy for increasing pay, benefits, and opportunities for promotion. Returning to an old position can understandably feel and look like a step back or a stagnation in your career path. This is especially true if you left the company because you felt (as do nearly 40% of those who decide to take the job hopping route) that a lack of advancement opportunities was a major factor leading to leaving.
Still, it's possible that returning to the same job could still be a good fit. If you feel that the old job now offers sufficient opportunity for advancement, or that gaining more years of experience in the same type of work would be a positive development for your career, it may be a good opportunity.
3) Do they want you back?
It's nice to feel wanted, and if your old employer is actively courting your return, that could be a sign that going back to an old job could be to your benefit. However, consider more than the pitch of the hiring manager. What will your manager and teammates think about your return?
It may be smiles and fistbumps all around. But there can also be negative feelings. For example, any coworkers who may have hoped to advance by taking up your previous responsibilities could see your return as a vote of no-confidence in their efforts to do so. Management may view you as a flight risk and be reluctant to invest in your long-term growth at the company. Any bad relationships that may have contributed to your desire to leave could still be present.
On the other hand, maybe there's been significant turnover and you'll be walking into a room of fresh faces and known responsibilities. Have a conversation with the hiring manager and anyone else with whom you may still be in contact and get a feel for the reception that awaits you should you return.
4) Is it really the same?
Whatever your situation was, time marches on and things change. Don't expect your old job to be exactly what is was. Personnel, management, company structure and focus, economics, and even social norms are moving targets that can affect the situation that awaits you even if you've held the job before. It could be exactly how you left it, but it could also feel like a new job entirely.
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