Boomerang Employee: Deciding Whether or Not to Return to a Former Employer


When I read your “Quitter’s Remorse” article last week, I recognized myself. Like the person who sent you the question, I quit my job for the promise of a better one, only to have my new job not pan out. It helped to learn that nearly half the 2500 job switchers surveyed wanted their former jobs back.1

After reading your article, I called my former supervisor and asked if any positions were open. My old job was. The person they’d hired to fill my position hadn’t worked out. I asked my former supervisor if he wanted me back. He said he’d love to have me back on his team, but I’d have to interview because the manager above him would have the final say on who got hired.

That I’d have to interview doesn’t sit well with me. I worked there for two years and always had good performance reviews. Aren’t I known quantity?


Yes, but you left. Your supervisor and the manager above him will want to learn “what led you to leave?” and “what leads you to want your former job back, given you left it?” Your former supervisor and manager need to know that if you’re hired, you won’t be resigning again for at least a year.

You need to ask yourself those same questions.

What led you to leave? Are those same factors still present?

Your former supervisor said he’d love to have you back on his team. In your email, you said the new job didn’t pan out, but you didn’t say you wanted to work for your former supervisor again. How do you feel about his supervisory skills?

Did you leave because you wanted a higher salary or greater flexibility? If so, will your former employer raise your pay or offer you more flexibility? If not, does returning to your former job make sense?

Did you leave because you felt stagnant and didn’t see a clear path for career advancement? Before you return, ask yourself “What do I want from my career?” and “How does returning to a former job benefit my career growth?” If your former employer didn’t invest in professional development and promotion from within, has that changed?

Realize you “can’t go home again” because home may have changed.

Even if you’re returning to the same job, much may have changed. Some of your former coworkers may have, like you, left for other positions. Some of those who worked alongside or below you on the organization chart may have been promoted to levels above you. How will you feel about that? Also, if your former company has multiple vacancies, like many other employers, you and your coworkers may be expected to pick up the slack.

Because you left once, your supervisor may be hesitant to fully trust you again until he believes you’re serious about staying. Some of your former coworkers may resent your departure and return, especially if you’re able to negotiate for a higher salary. If you receive job opportunities they want after you return, they may see you as the prodigal employee who gets rewarded because he left.

Get over your angst about the interview

Employees returning to a former company often make the mistake of not taking the rehire interview seriously. Yes, you’re a known quantity; however, your employer compare you against other candidates. I see it as a benefit that you’ll be able to interview with your supervisor and his manager. This will enable you to get a sense of the manager and you’ll want them both to say “yes” to you.

Remember that you can negotiate your pay and benefits

If you decide to return, remember that you, like every job candidate, can negotiate your pay and benefits. In hiring you, your former company saves recruiting costs, and you’ll be able to ramp up to speed more quickly than would a hire new to the company. That, along with any new skills you’ve learned and your employer’s need to quickly fill a vacancy, might make them willing to up your pay.

One important negotiation item—ask to resume your employee benefits as if there had been no break in employment. This allows you to avoid the waiting period to join the health insurance plan. Also, if your company’s paid time off accrual rate depends on years and months worked, you’ll be able to move up the accrual schedule more quickly.

Finally, you only want to return to a former job if it means going forward to a better work environment and benefits your career. Does it? Or are you regretting leaving a job you wanted to leave because you didn’t land in a better one?

(c) 2022 Lynne Curry

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4 thoughts on “Boomerang Employee: Deciding Whether or Not to Return to a Former Employer

  1. From the question of the boomerang employee about why should I have to re-interview, it shows the kind of delusion that led this person to leave and then to want to return in the first place. The person was bored, not challenged enough, not advancing fast enough (after two years!), and then the new job wasn’t that much better than the old or was harder to do or didn’t really have all the perks advertised at the interview. That’s what’s at the back of my mind as I read this. Take the re-interview seriously! as you said. Convince them that you really want back in and that you really are the best person for the position! as you said. And get used to the idea that work is not there to entertain you or even to be focused on you.

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