Should I Go Back to My Old Company?

One of my clients, frustrated with the job search process, recently asked me about the pros and cons of going back to their old company. Deciding to return to a former company is a pretty individualized question, and there are many factors to consider when making that decision. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself and some tips on how to be a “Boomerang Employee.”

In the Baby-Boomer generation, people rarely switched jobs, and even fewer people ever returned to their previous companies. Now, as careers are becoming more fluid, people stepping in and out of the workforce, employers see considerable value in welcoming past employees back. Organizations are setting up alumni network groups and newsletters to keep in touch with potential boomerang talent. Most of the time, previous employees have priority status in applicant tracking systems, and in some cases, companies even abbreviate the hiring process.

Benefits of Going Back

There can be lots of benefits to returning to a previous company.  For one, you will likely get paid more.  Typical annual raises range between 2-5%, but when you take a new job, your salary can jump as much as 15% in a move.  Second, you’re going to have an easier time onboarding.  Since you are already familiar with the systems and procedures, there’s less of an adjustment period.  Finally, if you still have a strong network, the chances are that you will have an established reputation there.

Why Did You Leave?

What was it that motivated you to change roles? If you left your last job because you had a great new opportunity that came up or a different challenge, going back might make sense. If you left because you felt frustrated with the company, people, or the work that you were doing, take a harder look to see if this is the right decision. Ask yourself what was it about the organization that you enjoyed, and what were the things that made you crazy. It can be helpful to write out the plusses and minuses of the company. Ultimately, if you left because something was not a good fit, ask yourself if that reason is still valid.

What to consider when asking "should I go back to my previous company"


What’s Changed?

If it’s been a few years since you worked for the company, take some time to catch up and see what’s new. Check out news articles, company earnings calls, and talk to previous co-workers to get a feel for how things are going. You are going to be bringing some new experience to the company since you last worked there. Think about what roles you are targeting.  

Getting Started

You’ve considered everything you’re ready to boomerang back to your previous company, now what? First, start with your network. Find out whom you know that still works there. LinkedIn is pretty useful here since you can search by the company and see who is in your network that works there. While you’re there, explore the group section for “Company” Alumni or former employees of “Company.” Often these groups are monitored by the organization and will have valuable information about returning to work.

Using your Network

Now that you know who’s who, it’s time to start reaching out. Find time to connect with your network, who are still at the company. Ideally, your first meeting should be someone with hiring influence at the company. Try to make this meeting can happen face-to-face and if you can afford it, pick up their tab. Ask these questions:

  • Are they happy there? What’s different since you left?
  • Are they aware of any openings coming soon that might be in line with your experience?
  • Is there an employee referral program, are past employees eligible, and would they be willing to refer you?

Ultimately, using your network to get back into a company is the ideal strategy. If it’s been a long time since you left and you no longer have contacts there, reach out to a recruiter and try to establish a connection. After that, start applying to the positions on the company website. You will want to include your previous job there, even if it has been more than 10-15 years since you’ve worked there.  If you are looking getting started or building a job search strategy, we can help! Email to learn more.


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