By Susan Ricker
People leave jobs for a variety of reasons: They find better opportunities, they're offered higher salaries or they get fired or laid off, to name a few. But what if a job seeker wants to go back to a former employer? While it may seem out of reach, there are benefits to considering a previous place of work, such as already understanding the company culture and how the business functions.
If you're not sure where to look next in your job search, a look back at a past company may be the answer. Here's how to get rehired by a former employer:
1. Consider why and how you left before asking if you want to return.
If you're considering a former employer for a job, will your old boss be interested in hearing from you? "The answer is, it depends on who you are -- [your] skills, capabilities, etc. -- and the manner in which you left," says Mitchell D. Weiss, adjunct professor of finance at the University of Hartford and author of Life Happens: A Practical Guide to Personal Finance From College to Career.
"I've owned and run commercial-finance companies, and I've served as an executive officer at several banks," Weiss says. "I've also hired back former employees. Not only were the folks we rehired competent and productive employees while they were on board the first time, but they also conducted themselves honorably and responsibly on the way out -- they transitioned their responsibilities, cleaned up outstanding issues and made themselves available for follow-up questions. In contrast, those who attempted to leverage the offer they had in hand for a counteroffer that beat it were invited to leave -- the sooner, the better."
2. Proceed with professionalism and keep an open mind.
If you're convinced that you should rejoin your old team, where should you start? "You will need to reconnect with former co-workers and bosses to let them know that you are interested in coming back," says Cheryl E. Palmer, career coach and owner of Call to Career. "It's a good idea to start by putting out feelers to see if there are any positions that open that you would be qualified for. You can also take a former co-worker out to lunch to re-establish the relationship."
Palmer also suggests setting up a networking meeting with a former boss to see how open the company would be to your return. "In addition, you can join any alumni groups that the company has on LinkedIn to reconnect with people in the organization."
3. Offer proof they'll be better off with you on the team.
Whether or not you think a company will want to take you back, it will likely come down to what makes good business sense. "Regarding how to return to your old company and why they would be willing to take you back, it is actually a very simple proposition, and it doesn't matter how ugly the separation may have been," says Roy Cohen, career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide.
"Offer a solution to a problem that no one else has solved and one which is both visible and important to the company," Cohen says. "You have an advantage. Having worked there once before, you know their needs and challenges as well as what resources may or may not be available. In a world where companies and bosses are struggling for answers, imagine the relief to be delivered one with few, if any, strings attached. An even better option -- show them how you will generate immediate guaranteed revenue and that you will do so legally and without creating conflict with your former colleagues. This is a crowd pleaser. It will get you rehired."
Returning to a former employer is possible. It can be a good business decision for the company and a smart career move for you if you can prove that the relationship will be beneficial for everyone.
Susan Ricker is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
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