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My previous employer recently reached out to explore possibility of getting me back on board.

I worked with them for 6+ years before moving on three years ago, basically to check out grass on the other side. I would consider my previous stint with them successful and my departure was on friendly terms.

My current workplace is good - and I was not considering leaving otherwise. The only downside I can think of is that the work is not as exciting as it was at previous place. On the monetary front - I'm making twice of what I was making at my earlier place with slight possibility of some serious amount if I manage to stay couple of years.

Every thing is in air at this point - but I believe they'll be offering significantly increased responsibilities (title) and will match (if not exceed) my current stub. On a personal front, I may get an opportunity to move close to my home town, which is non-existing in my current job.

I would normally evaluate it as any other fresh job offer - however this coming from my previous employer is making it a bit more challenging.

How should I proceed to evaluate this situation? What are the factors I should consider while evaluating and negotiating?

Will going back raise some flags on my resume?

  • Why did you leave the job in the first place? You make it sound like you left on a whim - check out grass on the other side - did you have reasons? Pay? Work content? People? Administration? – enderland Apr 30 '13 at 13:13
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    It was not on a whim - pay and exploring a different business domain were the main reason. – D.H. Apr 30 '13 at 13:24
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    @enderland - That should probably be a part of your(or someone elses) answer then. I do not think it needs to be added to the question. The generic how do I evaluate a job offer for a place I worked at a few years ago is better asked generically I think. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 30 '13 at 13:27
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    @JanDoggen - With a fresh offer there is quite a bit of uncertainty about the culture, and company. With a former employer much of that uncertainty is gone. If you know you enjoyed working there it is less of a risk to go back. You may be willing to accept less renumeration in consideration for an environment that you know is very enjoyable. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jun 17 '13 at 2:15
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    @JoshDM - I'm kind of curious about the original "If I manage to stay a couple years" statement. – JohnP Jul 24 '14 at 20:42
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I think there is an additional thing to consider: why is your former employer interested in hiring you back? It could be great if they need you to lead a new project or product, or generally to assume a role with more responsibility. It could be terrible, if they need you because of some deep domain knowledge (that you aren't interested in pursuing), or simply need more talent. I've been in this situation twice, and both times declined after thinking though what the employers motives were.

Regarding your resume, returning can be a positive, but ONLY if there is a sincere reason and some evidence of growth. Returning to the same company, same role, would definitely trigger some questions if I was interviewing you.

Also, if you do go back, you might want to work through your benefits, and ask if you can retain your seniority. That is, if you get X vacation for every year worked, see if you can get credited with your previous years of work.

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    Makes a lot of sense - probably will get more clarity on this in few days. – D.H. Apr 30 '13 at 17:13
  • If it is because they need you, it might be possible to get quite a bit higher pay. Question is, if it is enough to go back to something you have already left once. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Jul 24 '14 at 22:05
  • "thinking though" is missing an 'r' in 'through'. I would change it but I don't have rights and the edit is too small at my level here. – Mark Rogers Jun 24 '15 at 15:56
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You should indeed consider this as a fresh job offer, with one difference - you know something more about this company than you would about most others.

In particular, you know the reasons why you left in the first place. Something was lacking at that time, or you wouldn't have moved on. You didn't mention how long ago it was when you left, but you need to consider: have things changed since then, or will I be moving back into the same situation that I decided to leave?

In my personal experience, most folks who go back to a former employer end up leaving again within a few years. My friends who have done this tell me that nothing really changes, that the "freshness" wears off very quickly, and that the real reasons behind their original desire to leave resurface. Your situation may be different, but it would make sense to think this through.

I don't think it would look too bad on a resume, but it may indeed be something you'll have to explain to potential future employers. Just make sure your reasons are clear, so you don't come off as "flighty".

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In my experience the jobs always look better in the rear view mirror than they did when I was actually working them. That is not saying that it is not a good job or that you would not enjoy it there, but distance tends to cause the bad memories to fade and the good ones to shine.

The place you left 3 years ago has changed. There are new people, new dynamics, and a culture that you have been 3 years removed from its evolution. There is a good chance that it will feel like a completely foreign place should you choose to return. Even many of the people you worked with 3 years ago will have changed.

So for this reason it is important that you consider the move the same as you would any other. Evaluate it as you would any other offer. I would not give it any penalty, after all you had a good experience there once. But I would not give it any bonus either. If you accept the position I would do my best to keep my expectations low. Do they want you back possibly because they have become dysfunctional and want to get back to where they were before? If you manage your expectations well you should be able to stay happy. If you go in expecting it to be like it was when you left you will be sorely disappointed.

  • Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe he mentioned he worked there for 6 years, but not that he has been gone for 6 years. – CincinnatiProgrammer Apr 30 '13 at 12:42
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    Yes - I've been gone for 3 years, was with thm for 6+. May be the argument still holds - if it's more than few months. – D.H. Apr 30 '13 at 12:56
  • @D.H. Yes I think it does, I just wanted to be sure you hadn't just quit a few weeks ago or something. – CincinnatiProgrammer Apr 30 '13 at 13:16
  • @D.H. - Three years is enough that it will not be the same place. The changes likely wont be as dramatic now as they would be in 3 more years. I just returned to a position I held a year ago and it is very different in many ways. Though I do not regret returning. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 30 '13 at 13:19
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I've seen it recommended to HR departments of any good company to keep track of who was leaving, and a note whether they would consider hiring them again or not. If they do that, and they need a new employee, they can just go through their list, find someone who left maybe three years ago and who was a good employee when they left, and call them. There's a good chance that they get a good employee at the cost of a phone call, instead of paying to agencies, and wasting time on a dozen applicants who are no good. Worst case it's one wasted phone call.

From your point of view, if you wanted to leave your company, that might be a good opportunity. If you are happy where you are, and don't want to leave at all, you tell the old company that you are very pleased that they considered you, and that you would love to return if your current company wasn't as excellent as they are. If you read any good news about the old company, tell them to show you are interested in them. That way, they might call you again if the opportunity arises in three years time, which can't hurt.

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  1. Is the position offered part of a career track and if so, what is this career track?

  2. Why are you being offered the opportunity to return? Is it because you were a good performer, or is there skills, experience and contacts that you have acquired that is of value to them?

  3. Are you going to be a care taker, or do they want you to lead a new venture or new approach to doing business? Are they asking you to reprise your old role or do they have another role in mind for you?

  4. Will you easily adjust to your former employer's company culture and management?

  5. What is your former employer hoping to gain by welcoming you back?

protected by enderland Jul 7 '13 at 18:56

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