Best Practices for Getting a Job at Your Old Company

Often when you resign a position, you can't imagine ever wanting to return to your employer. After all, you're leaving for a reason—why not just say "peace out" and never look back? But a growing number of employees (known as "boomerang employees") are finding new opportunities at old employers, and hiring managers are increasingly open to rehiring former employees. After all, a returning employee is a known entity in terms of company culture.

If a boomerang position might someday interest you, follow these best practices for getting a job at your old company.

job at old company

Start by leaving on good terms

Your journey back to your old company begins when you're leaving it. Whenever you resign a position, leave on good terms. Don't try to have the last word during your notice period, and keep your comments during your exit interview reasonable and professional. After all, this is your last chance to make a good impression on HR—the same folks who could someday be screening your resume.

It's essential your personnel file include the magic words "eligible for rehire." In today's litigious world, whether you are "eligible for rehire" is one of the few pieces of information a former employer will share during a reference check—and, if you want a job at your old company, you need to be eligible for rehire.

Another smart move during your notice period is to leave ample documentation about your work. Jot down notes of any processes, and include screenshots if applicable. Offer to answer questions should they arise in the next few weeks. Your colleagues and replacement will appreciate it.

Stay in touch with former colleagues

When you spend 40-plus hours a week with your coworkers, strong bonds begin to form. Work to stay connected with your colleagues, whether it's on social media, at industry events, or even at lunch to catch up. You want to ensure your former colleagues remember you should a new opportunity arise. Staying connected on LinkedIn gives you a chance to showcase your new professional accomplishments, too.

Do some soul-searching

When an opportunity at your old company piques your interest, you need to ask yourself some hard questions before you begin pursuing it. Why did you leave in the first place? Has the situation changed, or have you changed? If circumstances at your former employer would still frustrate you, then why pursue the opportunity? Do you see the potential for growth, or are you simply looking to return to the past?

Treat the interview like you would any other

This is critical: Just because you know the company and potentially know the hiring manager, you need to treat the interview just like you would treat any other. Prepare adequately, dress appropriately, ask questions, and send follow-up thank-you notes. Acting like an unknown job candidate shows you respect the process, and you recognize you're not a slam dunk for any position.

Be prepared to answer tough questions

During your interview, you’ll be asked why you left in the first place—and why you're interested in coming back. Have a solid answer. You don't want to dwell on the negatives that led you to seek employment elsewhere. Instead, focus on the growth opportunities you were seeking when you left and how the experience you've gained during your time away will be an asset to your former employer.

When asked why you're interested in returning, be honest and reflective. Explain why returning is the next logical step on your professional journey, not a U-turn. You'll want to demonstrate your appreciation for the company's culture.

Another tip: Ask how the company has changed since your last day. Just as you've evolved, so too has your company. Impress on the hiring manager why you want to work at the company as it is today, not as it was whenever you resigned.

As the old saying goes, you can't "go home again," even professionally, but you can certainly embrace new opportunities in your old stomping grounds.

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