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My previous employer wants me to come work for them again. I was let go because of the pandemic, but I think the real reason I was let go is because my line manager had issues with my communication, that was the feed back he gave me after I was told I was being let go.

I don't want to work for my previous employer again even though I enjoyed it and we still have a great relationship and I am still in contact with them (i.e. the heads of the company).

How do I politely and respectfully tell my previous employer that I don't want to work for them again, without burning bridges and damaging our good relationship?

Edit: from the comments: I have been interviewing with other companies, and want to move forward. I guess it is like not wanting to get back with an ex after a breakup because meeting new people is better.

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  • 4
    Do you have another job right now? If so, this is easy: "Thanks for the offer, but I'm happy in my new role." Jun 26 at 10:28
  • @Philip Kendall No I don't have a job right now, and I mentioned this to one of the heads recently, so they know I am not working at the moment.
    – Sa2
    Jun 26 at 10:46
  • @Joe Strazzere That seems abrupt. Well they will write references for me and provide a letter of recommendation. All this being said I want to continue our good relationship and don't want my response to come across as snubby or negative in any way. I don't want to jeopardize the good relationship I have with them.
    – Sa2
    Jun 26 at 10:51
  • if you have contact with one of the heads, could you arrange to work under another line manager? could you talk through this with one of the heads of company? or in other words: could you use your relationship with the heads to remove any obstacles you see from working there?
    – Benjamin
    Jun 26 at 10:51
  • @Benjamin Any issues I had with the line manager were due to my inexperience. He was generally a good manager and I don't have anything against him. Even then, the line manager is one of the heads at the company so even if I did have an issue with him I would not be able to request not to work under him.
    – Sa2
    Jun 26 at 10:55
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Normally, following sentence is perfectly valid:

Thank you, but I am currently not interested. I will let you know if this changes.

But since you have great relations with them, and I presume you talk about other things too and maybe even have a sort of friendship, you might be inclined to give a reason.

Thank you for your offer, I really enjoyed working with you. But right now, I want to grow into another direction.

If you really have a friendship with them, you should think about something you want they can't possibly provide. That way, you not coming back is on you, not on them, and they should be understanding.

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  • Your last paragraph is exactly what I need. (At the moment) I don't want to work with the technology my previous company uses. I think I'll use this, thanks.
    – Sa2
    Jun 26 at 11:48
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    Just to make sure: You should follow through with that. If you give a reason, and than contradict that by how you take a job, that will backfire. I had a coworker who left because he wanted to work closer to home (-> less commute). Later on I found his new job was even further away from home, that's when I realized he talked BS. This costs a lot of trust.
    – Benjamin
    Jun 26 at 11:54
  • I'm really impressed by your answer. Do you mind writing an answer or comment to my other question workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/173985/… . I would really appreciate it.
    – Sa2
    Jun 26 at 11:55
  • Thanks for the heads up. I'll make sure to follow through.
    – Sa2
    Jun 26 at 11:57
  • Sadly, I have no personal experience with that other topic and can't give a better answer than the existing one.
    – Benjamin
    Jun 26 at 12:02
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My previous employer wants me to come work for them again.

That's very good. Few employers actively reach out to ex-employees.

but I think the real reason I was let go is because my line manager had issues with my communication,

Maybe, maybe not. If there was a real performance issue, they wouldn't ask you to come back.

I don't want to work for my previous employer again even though I enjoyed it and we still have a great relationship and I am still in contact with them (i.e. the heads of the company).

That sounds like a contradiction. If things are good with them, why do you not want to work there.

How do I politely and respectfully tell my previous employer that I don't want to work for them again, without burning bridges and damaging our good relationship?

thanks for reaching out, I'm delighted to hear that you want me back. Unfortunately I'm not looking for a change at this time, so I have to decline

ALTERNATIVE: If you genuinely liked it there and you have nothing better going on, why not give it a shot? Whatever reason prevents you from returning, it may be negotiable: money, commute, different supervisor, different role. There is really no harm in asking for it.

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  • Thanks. What does "I'm not looking for a change" mean? I am not working at the moment and my previous employer knows this.
    – Sa2
    Jun 26 at 11:43
  • @Sa2 - They would not have know that unless you told them (but you revealed in a comment this did happen), so cut the part about a change and politely decline.
    – Donald
    Jun 26 at 20:23

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