Should I Return to My Previous Job?

It was the last quarter of the year and I had just exited a job in search of greener pastures but little did I know that the grass wasn’t greener on the other side. Things fell apart quickly and I ended up leaving a good job for a job that didn’t exist for longer than a few weeks (you can read more about my experience in the article Thinking About Quitting Your Current Job?.) I didn’t have enough time to lick my wounds so I started calling up friends and family to take hold of whatever opportunities were available within my network.


Luckily for me, I got another job within a rather short period but it wasn’t as great as the previous job – or so I thought. Well, no job is perfect and what the previous job (Company A) lacked in administration and a few other areas, this new job (Company B) seemed to make provisions for. I was grateful to get another offer within such a short period at the same time it was hard not to feel like I got the short end of the stick.


I maintained close relationships with my colleagues from Company A and will sometimes chat them up to find out how they were doing. To be honest, I did that occasionally not because I wanted to find out how they were doing but because I was using their ‘progress’ as a yardstick for my success. If you must know, we were all progressing at the same pace which was a bit comforting. However, because of the track record I had built over time at Company A, I knew I would have advanced in my career at a faster pace whereas I had to prove I was worth my salt at Company B before any real progress could be made (per se).


Sometimes I would play out scenarios in my head about how the conversation with the HR manager at Company A will go and half the time, the story ended happily with me getting my old job back. I learned of the progress of a colleague at Company A and surprise-surprise, he was earning much more than I was! This made me begin to seriously consider going back. The odds were in favor of my getting the job back but it meant I had to commit the next 5 to 10 years of my life to the company. It would be unfair to be given my old job back only for me to leave a few months down the line. After thinking things through, reflecting over the reasons I left in the first place and seeking counsel from a few mentors, I soon realized it was not such a good idea after all. Let’s discuss reasons why.



There May Be Some Negative Feelings


Some people at the company may hold negative sentiments towards you. Your leaving could be seen as a violation of trust. This doesn’t mean they wouldn’t take you back, but it does mean you should be particularly aware of how your manager might feel about you if you do return. Things might not be as great as they once were.



The Company May Have Changed


You might think you’re returning to the same old place, but things may have changed substantially since you left. There might be new employees, new policies or other changes which you will have to get reaccustomed to.



You Could Be Made Expendable


Perhaps you were a high performer and the company was sad to see you go. Your absence would have shown management that the company can actually survive without you. They may have found a replacement to take up your old job or discovered a way to fill the gap your absence created. This means when push comes to shove, you could be expendable.



There could be trust issues


Once bitten, twice shy – You left the first time in pursuit of a better opportunity, what’s the guarantee you won’t jump on the next good thing that comes your way? Personally I feel returning to your previous employer positions you as an opportunist or a fair-weather fellow. You left because you felt the company couldn’t offer anything better at that point in time and now that you have seen what it’s like out there, you are crawling back…



What if you get a NO?


Oh my poor heart would not be able to take it! Imagine being told: “We would have loved to give you your old job back but we have filled that position. We will let you know when an opportunity comes up that you will be a good fit for.” That’s actually a nice way of saying no. Some managers might be a bit more blunt and tell you reasons why they don’t want you back. However, if you feel asking to have your old job back is the best thing to do, the fear of getting a no shouldn’t deter you from making such a bold move.



Before you ask to have your job back, think deeply about the reasons you left. Has your perspective of things changed since then? If you are considering going back just to get out of your current difficulties, then this may not be the right choice. If you are only doing this just to have a job, or if you intend to leave again as soon as a better opportunity arises, then you should think twice. If you leave the company a second time, it’s very likely that you’ll also leave a bad taste in your colleagues’ and supervisors’ mouths. This will only serve to give you a bad reputation.


You might want your old job back because you are familiar with the job description, the people and that corporate environment. The fear of the unknown that comes with taking a new job can be rather unsettling, so if you do begin to feel remorseful about leaving your old job, focus all your energy on your career goals and the path that will lead you towards that direction.



Have you had any experience with returning to an old job or do you have a different take on the subject? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below and let’s discuss further.