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How to Take a Job with a Previous Employer

Lindsay Olson

It's important not to burn bridges when you leave one company to take a job with another. In addition to having your former boss provide a good reference, you may also have the opportunity to go back to work there in the future.

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Why a Company Would Want You Back

Leaving a company doesn't have to mean the relationship ends there. Plenty of people go to greener pastures only to realize it wasn't so green after all.

Sometimes, to expand your skill set, you have to work elsewhere to gain new experiences and growth opportunities that your employer just isn't in a place to offer. However, after being gone for some time, they might realize you have skills that they haven't found in your replacements. Or perhaps a new opportunity opened up that can utilize your newly acquired skills. Perhaps you're on the market again and your former employer, who never wanted you to leave in the first place, gets wind of it. If you were part of a layoff, it wouldn't be uncommon for the former employer to re-approach you when funds are available to hire again. Whatever the reason, leaving on a good note is what matters.

Consider the Offer

Even if you never imagined you would return to the company where you used to work, be open to the possibility. But first, recall why you quit. Were there insurmountable personnel issues you wanted to escape? Were there ethical concerns?

If working conditions (like a temperamental boss, or a lack of resources) were the reason, reach out to your former co-workers to see if anything has changed. Also dig deep to make sure that those conditions have really improved. If they haven't, why would you subject yourself to that environment again?

Negotiate Smartly

You're often in a better negotiating position if you go back to a former employer. You know the company well at this point and know what you should and can negotiate upfront. And since you're returning as a known entity, you're even more valuable.

Your situation may have changed along with the company's needs. This is the time to work out a flexible working arrangement, compensation structure, or any other alternate employment options.

[See 5 Secrets to a Rewarding Career.]

How to Get Re-Hired

If you are itching to go back to your former employer, here are some steps to take:

1.Set up the path for re-hiring when you resign. Make sure you resign properly; do not burn any bridges but make the transition smooth for the next person who occupies the role.

2.Stay connected to the company and colleagues. Some companies have corporate alumni networks that you can join. Also, follow the company's LinkedIn group or Facebook page. Do the same for your colleagues. Send them emails every once in awhile to stay in touch, catch up in-person, and connect on professional networks.

3.Keep an eye on the job board. Check in on the company's careers page to see if any new opportunities arise. Even if it's in a different department, your old boss may be able to make the recommendation to hire you.

4.Be prepared. Be ready to answer lots of questions about why you left and why you want to come back.

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.

Twitter: @PRJobs

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