Is it Bad to Leave a Company Then Get Hired Back?
If you’re one of the millions of American workers who changed jobs during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, then realized that your new job wasn’t what you expected, then you’re not alone.
A recent study revealed that more than 15 million people feel they were “better off” in their previous positions.
Furthermore, the same study tells us that 20% of workers who left their jobs during the pandemic have already gone back to their previous employers.
Some say these so-called boomerang employees are part of the next big employment trend following the Great Resignation.
Of course, this begs the question: Is it bad to leave a company then get hired back? Or is going back to a previous employer the smart move when you’re not happy in your current position?
As with any big decision, there are lots of things to consider.
The Pros of Returning to a Former Employer
- Better pay: In general, job-hoppers earn more money. According to Visier Data, the average boomerang employee increased their salary by 28% when returning to a previous employer, compared to their salary when they left the company.
- Faster promotions: Visier Data also reports that 40% of boomerang workers who were individual contributors when they left, were rehired to fill management roles.
- Familiarity: You may not have loved everything about your previous company, but it’s the “devil you know.” You’ll reenter with eyes wide open, knowing the good, the bad, and the ugly about the company. That means, you can take proactive steps to avoid the bad and absorb more of the good.
The Cons of Retuning to Your Previous Employer
- Co-worker resentment: If you are re-hired into a management position, it may breed resentment among colleagues who stayed behind. You may even be the boss to those who were once peers. Jealousy and hurt feelings could very well be part of your daily existence. Consider how you might handle that scenario.
- Return of negative patterns: Humans are creatures of habit. We tend to do what’s familiar, even if it’s not good for us. That means, once you’re back at an old employer, you may fall quickly back into old routines. You might even find yourself dealing with same frustrating issues that made you want to quit in the first place. It will take real intention and effort on your part to make sure you don’t repeat bad habits.
- Fear of moving on again: Going back to an old employer may be the right move, but after a few years, it may be time to look for a new job again.
Some boomerang employees may be afraid to move on a second time. What if it doesn’t work out again? What if they have to return a second time? That fear is understandable, but it’s not completely rational. No two companies are alike. If you think that it is time for you to make a move, then you owe it to yourself to try. Just because it didn’t work out the first time doesn’t mean it never will.
There are Even More Factors to Consider
Aside from considering the pros and cons of returning to a previous employer, there are other factors to consider.
Recall the reason you left
If you’re not happy in your new job, you may look at your past employer with rose-colored glasses—remembering the good parts and downplaying the negative aspects.
Try to remember why you left your job in the first place. Did you clash with your manager? Were there limited growth opportunities? Were you just plain bored?
Then consider if any of those obstacles are still there. Maybe your previous manager has moved on. Or maybe the company is supporting work from home options that weren’t available when you left.
You want to make sure that the reason you left the company won’t be a factor if you decide to return.
Think career growth over comfort
Ask yourself if returning to a previous employer will benefit your career. It may feel comfortable to be back where you know the people, policies, and procedures. But will going back to your previous employer prevent you from learning new skills, making fresh contacts, and driving your career forward?
Take recruitment with a grain of salt
Sometimes, we may not be thinking of returning to a previous employer, but an old boss may call us up with an offer.
It can be flattering to get a call like this. After all, it feels good to be wanted. But take these offers with a grain of salt. Employers need top talent more than ever. Your old manager may stretch the truth a bit to get you to come back. You may hear promises of higher pay, more flexibility, a bigger office, or a better overall work environment. But are those just empty words?
Check with former co-workers to verify your former manager’s claims. Also, do a bit of research into the company to see how it’s performing. If the company is on an upswing, then claims of increased salary and increased responsibilities are more likely to be true.
Be prepared to interview
Don’t assume that just because you once worked for a previous employer, you’ll just be given your old job back because you asked. Most employers will likely want you to go through a formal interview process.
Don’t take this as an insult. There could be legal reasons why an employer needs you to interview. Also, they need to do their due diligence as well. A former employer will want to know why you want to come back and make sure you are planning on staying if rehired.
This is kind of the opposite of the previous point. Sometimes, being recruited by a former employer could be a good thing. Don’t dismiss the opportunity out of hand because going back to a former employer seems like a “step backward” or you felt you were undervalued during your time there.
In your absence, the company may have experience positive growth. They may be expanding and ready to offer you a position that wasn’t available to you prior to you leaving. In many cases, going back to a previous employer could lead to a career-changing opportunity.
Negotiate. Negotiate. Negotiate
Whether you’re asking to return, or you’re being recruited, you should renegotiate all aspects of the job—whether that’s your salary, work from home arrangements, hours, benefits, signing bonus, etc. It’s all up for grabs. Before you decide to return, be sure to get any promised offerings in writing.
Should You Stay or Should You Go?
Deciding to go back to a former company is a big decision in anyone’s career. It could be a great move, or it could be inviting old frustrations and stressors back into your life.
If you have an opportunity to get hired back, weight the pros and cons, ask yourself the questions listed above, and make the best possible decision for yourself and your career. If you decide to leave and find new employment, be sure to have a strong resume and LinkedIn profile to make it easy for employers to hire you.