The revolution known as the Great Resignation caused a reshuffle of the American workforce. Employees who felt unheard and underappreciated by their employers moved on from their roles in search of greener pastures. Those that were on the move, were promised a better work-life balance, more flexibility, and company values that were in line with their own—but did some employers deliver on their promises?
A study found that 72% of people who left their job during the Great Resignation regret doing so. If you’re one of those people, you may be doing some self-reflecting—questioning if you should’ve resigned from your last job at all. Did I leave growth opportunities on the table? Did I actually enjoy my work?
The good news is that nothing is permanent—and returning to a former employer is actually pretty common. If you left on good terms, you may be able to go back—either to your old position or in a new capacity. However, while the possibility is there, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of doing so. Before attempting to go back to your old job, ask yourself these questions:
Did I leave my last employer on good terms?
Leaving on good terms is always recommended—however things don’t always pan out as we hope they would. Before deciding to go back to your old job, it’s important to consider if your employer would rehire you. Did you formally resign and give them adequate notice before departing? Did you and your team work well together? Have you kept in touch with any decision makers?
Did I give my new company enough of a chance?
Starting a new job is undoubtedly stressful—you’ve given up everything you know for the unknown and you’ve likely invested a lot of time in the process. So, it’s important to determine if your feelings of discomfort are related to unfamiliarity, or if the new job or company is just not it. Before deciding to go back to your old job, consider these things:
- How much time has passed since I started my new position?
- Was I misled during the interview process? If so, in which ways?
- Do my current colleagues seem to have similar concerns?
- Have I addressed any of my concerns with my hiring manager and/or my supervisor?
Why did I leave my last job?
While you may have determined you’re ready to leave your new role, you’ll want to remember why you left your old one before you consider going back to it. Being away from a situation can at times attribute to forgetfulness—so take some time to picture yourself back in your old stomping grounds. If you can’t happily imagine yourself there, going back to your old job is likely not a good idea. However, if you’re satisfied with what you’re picturing, returning could open doors for you.
Another thing to consider is time. How long has it been since you left the role or company you’re thinking of going back to? Things may have changed for the good or for the bad, since you resigned—so do your homework to ensure you know what type of environment you’d be entering upon rejoining.
What do I hope to gain by going back?
While you may be happier going back to your old job than you are in your current job—is something better out there? Before approaching your old company for your job back, think about what you hope to gain by returning. Ask yourself these questions:
- What type of role would I want and would I be willing to compromise just to be at my old company?
- Would my old role satisfy my career goals and personal needs?
- Can I leverage my new experience for a higher salary or more responsibility?
- Will I have opportunities for growth?
- Do I want to apply to other companies first to see if I can find a better fit?
If ultimately you decide you’d like to give your old company another shot, the first step is to reach out to your former manager or a senior leader rather than applying on the company website. Making this connection first gives you an opportunity to formally discuss your reasons for returning and opportunities for doing so. If there aren’t any open positions at the time, your contact can keep you in mind as a future hire when the time is right.