I have worked for company "X" for 5 years and left the company couple of weeks ago. I am working for company "Y" now, but I don't like the work here and I am trying to go back to my previous company. My manager said OK, but HR asked him why I'm coming back, especially since nothing has changed since then.

I told them that I didn't like my current job, but they are saying that is an external reason. What can I tell them?

  • 3
    possible duplicate of What do I say when resigning after just a month?
    – mcknz
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 20:44
  • 7
    Why did you leave in the first place ? That's the most important issue here. Some reasons you can explain to the HR person, some will just make it very difficult for you to come back
    – ero
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 8:34
  • Knew a guy who left because what company B promised was a lot better than what company A delivered. When he started he figured out within ten minutes that none of their promises were true. Returned same day to A and stayed for several years.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 11:06
  • Assuming that your manager needs a person, and agrees to have you back, I wonder why HR would think they are supposed to interfere with this?
    – gnasher729
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 11:07
  • I would simply admit you made a mistake when gauging the opportunity with the new company. So long as you did not bash anyone or the company in your exit interview that should not be a problem. If you did... well that was a bad choice... time to find a new employer Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 16:27

5 Answers 5


Going back to a previous employer can definitely be possible. But obviously it depends on how you left the previous employer. I haven't done so myself, but I have a few experiences telling me that it is possible.

What to tell them

Explaining that your new job doesn't live up to your expectations was definitely a sensible thing to do. That is the single most likely reason to want to come back.

This might not be sufficient for them. They may fear that you are going to leave again soon when another offer comes up. If you have given the impression that you were unhappy with your previous job, it is a quite natural concern for them to have.

There are however a few points speaking against that. If you were unhappy with your previous job from the first month you worked there, you wouldn't have stayed for five years. Moreover wanting to come back after having been somewhere else sends a clear signal that you were not really unhappy with your previous job and that you might even be less likely to leave again given your current unsatisfying experience.

It is also possible that they might actually have been happy to see you leave in the first place. In some jurisdictions it can quite difficult to get rid of an employee once the company has hired them. If an employee only gets stay because they are difficult to get rid of, then that employee won't be coming back after having resigned. I have no way of knowing whether this would apply to you.

Knowledge of what was said by you and your previous employer when you resigned could give a better understanding of why they might be hesitating to take you back.

My own experience

Several years ago I was interviewing for a job. One of the companies where I had applied turned me down because a previous employer of said company wanted to come back and they were going to give the position to him rather than to me.

At a later time I resigned from a job after having worked at that company for four months. I explained my reasons for leaving which was that I had received an offer which was better suited for my qualifications and gave a 50% higher salary. Upon me leaving they made it clear to me that in case my new job did not live up to my expectations they would be interested in me coming back.

I resigned from another job after 4½ years. In this case I explained that it had been a very difficult decision for me because I had been very happy with my job at that company. My manager at that company explained to me that if I should change my mind they would very much like to see me back and made sure to mention a company policy about a shorter interview process for anybody coming back within the first half year.

It has been 4 years since I left that company and lately they have been contacting me every 6 months to hear if I might be interested in coming back.

  • And now one year later I have myself returned to a previous employer.
    – kasperd
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 19:31

What can i tell them?

You left company X for a good reason, and that reason almost certainly hasn't changed in the couple of weeks since you've been gone.

HR is concerned that if you are brought back, you'll just leave again soon, most likely for the same reasons as before. And thus the company would have to go through the whole exit-and-replacement process again. That's not something most companies want to do.

So you can tell them why you think you won't leave again. If you can't come up with a good set of reassuring reasons, your chances of being re-hired will likely be diminished.

  • The only reason i left the company X was thinking that the company Y is good for me. But the work here is different and my previous job was much better. I don't know how can i assure them that i won't leave them again
    – Sam123
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 19:56
  • 12
    This. The company doesn't want to hire you back just to pay you for a year or two while you look for other jobs. If you thought Y was better for you, then you may still be looking for Z or ABC. Give them reasons that's not true.
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 21:52
  • 11
    We recently ran into this with an employee. The employee left, tried out a new job for a month, then called me asking to come back. My answer was no. This person was a good employee however they didn't even talk to me about why they were leaving prior to putting the resignation letter on my desk. If they had then we might have been able to work something out. However, considering they were unwilling to communicate any displeasure then I don't want to run that chance again.
    – NotMe
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 23:23
  • 1
    Exactly. It's also a matter of comparative value. Maybe you're 5% better than the next programmer, because you have already experience with the company - but if you're only staying around six months, they'd get way more value out of someone who's going to likely be there 3-5 years. If they wanted six months they'd hire a contractor.
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 14:12
  • 1
    That's not to say there aren't cases I'd happily take someone back. I work in a data-science type position. If the <local sports team> were to offer me a job figuring out how to make the team better through statistics, I'd probably take it in a minute. Two weeks later I find out that it's not actually my dream job. I probably would ask back to my employer, and have a fair shot at getting my job back, given the unique situation. But that all assumes I was above-board the whole time. If I just leave for more money? I wouldn't assume I had anything waiting for me.
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 14:17

If your manager wants to rehire you, then you're in a good position, but be completely honest with HR. If you start lying about your reasons, you'll come across as distrustful. As far as I can gather, this is what happened:

You made a mistake. After 5 years at the company, you were happy with the work and the environment, but you started to wonder what else was out there. You were somehow deluded into thinking that your new job was going to be a great new experience, but you quickly realized that that wasn't the case, and you missed your job at Company X. It was kind of like your Rumspringa - you saw the world, and you're ready to come back home for good.

That's all you need to say, and all you should say.


I can see HR's concern here. Whatever was wrong with Company X was severe enough that you decided to leave - and as they say, nothing's changed. If you were looking for another job then, the default assumption is that you'll still be looking for another job now, which makes rehiring you a big risk.

You haven't told us why you left Company X in the first place, but what you need to tell HR is what's different now that means you won't just be leaving again in a few months.

Personally, I wouldn't rehire you unless there were extreme mitigating circumstances: about the only one I've ever heard of is when someone emigrated to be with their partner, but it didn't work out so they moved back home. You may just have to accept that you burned that bridge and you can't go back.

  • 5
    So what happens when you hear good things about Company Z? Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 20:23

It looks like the HR of Company X is looking for the push reason. What pushed you out of Company X?

Was the job scope at Company Y similiar to X?

If it was similiar, then that's a sign to HR that you don't like the environment at Company X and was pushed out. If you know the reason, then telling them might help HR understand the situation in your (previous) department.

If it was a different, then just say you wanted to try something new but it didn't work out. Tell them there was no push factor. Just a desire to do something different.

At this point, HR might ask "So were you bored previously?".

At this point, you could say, "I think I wasn't sure what I wanted in my life and I needed to try something different. It didn't work out, so now I know what I don't want in life".

The point is to be humble but confident. After all, you are "asking" for a job.

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