So it’s not really working out at your new job, or you have sadly found yourself without employment for any number of reasons. You recall an old employer whom you worked well with, or perhaps you chance upon a previous company’s job listing in a recruitment portal. What luck! It’s time to give them a call, and you’ll be on the way back in!
Not so fast. There’s some preparation to do before you just Whatsapp whichever number you saved, and following the proper steps will create a good second impression of you – thereby increasing your chances of getting hired.
To start with, know your motives. Going back to your old job because you don’t like your new one is not a very good reason. That’s why it’s very important to seek support and alternative points of view before making the decision.
Talk to your closest friends, mentor, career coach, or anyone who you trust and who can ask you the supportive and tough questions to help you think it through and make your own decision.
Then, do your research. The company and the job may have changed much since you were last working there, so get yourself updated.
‘Things change quickly and even if you’ve only been gone a few months, they are likely to have replaced you or allocated some of your tasks elsewhere and those people may not be happy to see you return,’ says Corinne Mills, Managing Director of Personal Career Management and author of Career Coach.
‘Make sure you know exactly what you are stepping back into – both in terms of the new team set-up as well as any other organisational or sector changes that may have had an impact since your departure.
‘The best way to do this is to talk to some of your ex-colleagues, perhaps contacting them via Linkedin if you’ve not kept in close touch.’
Remember, even if you left on good terms, you still need to prove yourself. You can’t rely on your old reputation you once had, especially if there has been a change of manager since you left.
Next, check the referral programme. This is especially true for those who have many contacts in their former companies. Referrals tend to have a higher chance of being hired and being retained, so if you kept in touch with any ex-colleagues, now’s the time to ask them if they would be willing to bring up your name.
In some companies, this may also allow you to pass over certain aptitude tests or screening interviews. Don’t get complacent, though! A referral is never a free pass to a position.
If you’ve contacted the relevant people and want to push forward, make sure to prepare and answer for the inevitable interview question – “Why did you leave?”
Corinne advised: ‘Don’t just think about why you want to go back, put yourself in your former employer’s shoes and consider why they should want you back.
‘For instance, you could say that the development you needed wasn’t available within the organisation at the time, so you left to pursue this elsewhere, and now you want to bring it back with you.
‘Your former company should feel that you’re an even better asset to them than you were previously – not that they’re doing you a favour. No one gets a job out of pity or because they like you. You need to prove that the benefits of taking you back outweigh the risk that you’ll leave again quickly.’
Lastly, prepare what to say to your current employer.
While writing up your CV and cover letter, remember that your former company will want to know about your reasons for leaving and for coming back.
And above that, you need to demonstrate how you will bring more value to the company now, and how you’re ready to fit with them again. Don’t rely on whatever past achievements you may have had to sell yourself, but focus on the new future you want to carve out with them.
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