You have just started a new job. Yet, you have a sinking feeling that perhaps you made a mistake. What can you do when you've quit your job and started a new position, only to discover that the new job isn't what you expected? What are your options when you are already regretting leaving your old job, and you really wish you hadn't? Is there a way you can get rehired after quitting your old job?
Can you ask your employer if you can return to the position you left? What's the best way to ask for your old job back? Or should you pursue other opportunities?
What to Do When a New Job Doesn't Work Out
Hopefully, you left your old employer on a positive note. Because you don't know what can happen when you start a new job, it makes good sense to leave a job on the best terms possible.
Even if you diligently check out the company, your future manager, and your co-workers as best you can, the job might not be how you'd imagined it and working for the company might not be what you expected.
It happens, but before you ask for your old job back, be very sure that you want it. Even if you could go back, you might not be able to. It's also important to think about why you decided to leave your old employer. If nothing has changed, other than you not liking your new job, it might be better to continue your job search for a position that's a better fit.
Should You Ask for Your Job Back?
Does it make sense to ask for your job back? You resigned for a reason. Is the fact that the new job isn't working out a good enough reason to return to a situation that you have recently left? Or, does it make sense to look for another new job and move on?
Think seriously about what you would have to lose—or gain—if you quit the new job and started over. Or, consider staying at the new position while carefully (and confidentially) restarting your job search.
If you’re stressed even thinking about going to work, and you can't see any options for changing the dynamic at your new workplace, it might be time to move back or move on to something else.
There may be a way you can discreetly discuss the situation with your new manager. After all, the company may be having second thoughts as well. If you do, don’t mention how much you hate your job. Instead, review the possible options for what to do next before you start a conversation or make any decisions.
Weigh the pros and cons before you make a final decision:
- Make a list of why you left and then create another list of what the benefits would be if you went back.
- If the pros outweigh the cons, consider asking for your old job back or for a new position with your former employer.
If you were an employee who was held in high regard, your previous employer may be glad to consider rehiring you.
Will the Company Rehire You?
Don't presume that the company will hire you back though, even if they thought you were great at your job. Your position may have already been filled. Even if it's not, they might prefer to start over with someone else. There will be questions about your commitment to the company and whether you'll quit again the next time you get a job offer.
If the company is willing to consider rehiring you, you will probably have to sell yourself to the company and convince them that it would a good idea to rehire you.
Be prepared to explain why you left, what didn't work out at the new company, and why you want to come back. Also, be prepared to show the company why it would be advantageous for them to rehire you, and how you will show your commitment to staying this time around.
The Best Way to Ask for Your Job Back
Here are some tips you can use to make it easier to get your old job back:
Before you leave, do everything you can to ensure you resign on good terms. Here's advice on how to resign from a job. Leaving on the best terms possible will help you keep a foot in the door of the company and up your chances of getting rehired. If you didn't leave on the best of terms, it might be difficult to get rehired. You could reach out to your former manager to try and smooth things over.
Stay Connected with Colleagues
Keep in touch with your former colleagues. Connect with them on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Send a LinkedIn message or an email once in a while to check on how they are doing. Have coffee and lunch on occasion. The more connected you are, the easier it will be to go back. The stronger your personal connections, the more likely you are to be taken back.
Stay Connected with the Company
In addition to keeping in touch with your former colleagues, stay connected with the company. If the company has a LinkedIn Group, join it or follow the company's LinkedIn page. You could also "like" the company Facebook page and follow the company on Twitter. If your former employer runs a corporate alumni network, join it. The more engaged you stay, the better your chances of returning.
Make a Decision
Don't make a hasty decision. Think it over carefully, and make sure you truly want to go back. Don't ask to be rehired just because it's the path of least resistance and it's easier to ask for your job back than it is to start your job search over.
Be sure it's the right move from both a career and a personal perspective. While you’re deciding what to do, don’t forget that you quit for a reason.
Ask for Your Job Back
If you decide you do want to go back to working for your former employer, you can request an in-person meeting or send a letter or email message asking for your job back. Here's a sample letter to ask for your job back and a template that you can edit to fit your personal circumstances.
What Else Can You Do?
Check on other jobs at the company. If your job has been filled, inquire about other openings you might be qualified for. Companies are likely to consider rehiring ex-employees who have done a good job for them in the past. There may even be a position that's a better fit than the job you left.
Be Prepared to Explain
Be prepared to answer questions—lots of questions. Prepare answers to questions about why you quit, why you want your job back, and why the company should rehire you. You'll need to be convincing and sell yourself to the company as to why they should give you a second chance.
Have a Back-Up Plan
Going back to your former position may not be an option. Have a backup plan in place and be prepared to start a new job search. Here are tips on what to do when a new job doesn't work out. Even though it's difficult to be told "no," it may be better, in the long run, to consider other options and keep your career path moving forward instead of backward.
The Next Steps
If you get a positive response from your former employer, the next step is to resign from your job as gracefully as possible. It can be uncomfortable, but quitting a job you just started may be the best option for the employer as well as yourself.
But what should you do if your old employer doesn’t want you back? Start discreetly looking for a new position, line up some references who can attest to your qualifications, and consider this as a bump in your career—not a major incident. It happens more often than you may think. Ultimately, if the job isn’t the best fit, it would be best for everyone, especially you, if you moved on.