There was a time not long ago that most people would tell you it was a bad idea to return to an employer with which you had previously parted ways. Since those days, it is not only more common for employees to hop from one company to another every few years, but also the prevalence of contract work has grown quite a bit.
Nevertheless, there is no hard and fast answer - your decision to return to a former employer will depend on several factors.
Remember why you left the first time
When you've been away from an employer for a while, the negative aspects of your experiences may fade away. You'll find yourself thinking of the good times you had and the positive relationships you made. Though it's rarely a bad thing to focus on the good that came from your experience, you need to be realistic about why you left.
If your reason for leaving was related to poor management, for instance, and those managers are still working with the company, you're likely to run into the same problems again. A pros and cons list can help you determine if you should go back, or if the rose-tinted lens of nostalgia is clouding your judgment.
Realize that the organization may have changed while you were away
Companies evolve and grow over time as people leave, progress to new positions and react to broader changes in the marketplace. It's important to understand that the company you remember likely doesn't exist in exactly the same way you recall.
"An organization evolves, just as employees do – both professionally and personally," says Mary Grimm, Recruiting Manager for Beacon Hill's Associates Division in New York. "The needs of the organization and the employee change. If the needs of the employee match the company, then a reunion may not be as far-fetched as one might think!"
For example, if you had left a social media marketing company five years ago, the pace of change in the industry dictates that the organization you would return to likely has drastically different goals, workflows and team dynamics. Your favorite coworkers may have moved on to other departments or other organizations, too. If you are on the fence about returning and are offered an interview, take that opportunity to learn what's changed since your time with the organization.
Be prepared to ask for higher compensation, and to prove you deserve it
After you left the company, you likely went off and gained new experiences and skills elsewhere. This means you can probably command a higher compensation rate than you had before. If you parted ways with the organization on good terms, come back armed with details of how you have grown as a professional in the meantime.
In addition to gaining skills and experience, you will have a new perspective on the business. Maybe you encountered new processes and ways of doing business at another company. Bring this perspective to the table and show the hiring managers why you deserve more this time around. As you negotiate, be sure to bring up the fact that you'll require far less ramp-up time than if the company hired a fresh candidate. As long as things haven't changed too much since you left, you can probably hop back into the flow of things with very little need for additional training.
If you previously worked for the employer in a contract capacity and you're looking for full-time work, these advantages can give you a leg up in the decision-making process.
At the end of the day, your decision to return to a previous employer depends on your prior experiences with that organization, the reasons you left in the first place, and the goals you have for your career. If you're looking for more tips on how to land the job of your dreams, check out our resource center.
This content is brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group.