Is it ever acceptable to ask for your old job back?

I quit my first "real" job after university, as a web developer, without another job lined up. I was frustrated and it was probably really dumb.

Part of me dreams of doing something completely different, but realistically I don't know how good my chances are of that. If I have to, I will almost certainly apply for other web developer jobs, similar to what I have done.

My anticipation is that web developer employers will think "so why did you quit that job? If you were frustrated with it, won't that be the same with us? Won't you just leave us like you did them?"

Perhaps I should just ask for my old job back then, so at least the next time I want to get a new job, I don't just quit without one lined up, which I think employers seem to really hate (I get the impression there's a real stigma against it). However, I did show uncertainty to my employers before... saying I wanted to leave, and I didn't. Part of me thinks my employer might take me back if I grovelled, but maybe I am then just taking the mickey too much.

Is it ever acceptable to ask for your old job back? Or should I just accept my gigantic mistake, move on, and pray to God that I can convince someone to hire me in spite of this?

  • 3
    It never hurts to ask. All they can say is no :)
    – Jane S
    Aug 7 '15 at 9:08
  • lifehack.org/articles/work/… Maybe think long and hard about these (or similar questions) before you do. If you really think it would work out then as Jane says...you can only ask.
    – Dustybin80
    Aug 7 '15 at 14:48
  • In my work history, the shortest one was a guy leaving on Friday evening, starting a new job at 9:00am on Monday, and asking to get his job back at 9:10am the same morning :-) And he stayed with his old company for years after that.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 7 '15 at 16:30
  • i would use this avenue. You left the job. You had good reasons for doing so. If you took that job back would they rise there head again. I think they would. Put it down to experience.. Otherwise that snake will get you back to square one
    – Ed Heal
    Aug 7 '15 at 22:29
  • Don't, you will lose face.
    – Jack
    Aug 8 '15 at 8:00

It is not the end of the world quitting your job before you have another lined up (though you are correct that it is not ideal).

You can apply for your old job, assuming you haven't burnt your bridges. You will have to prove your worth to your old employer like any other interview candidate, as well as answer the thorny questions like "why should we employ you given that you might leave again soon?" or "what has changed your mind since leaving?". I would also suggest treating it like any other application: be cool and professional.

If a new employer asks why you left before signing a new contract, just be honest. Again reiterate the value you aim to bring to your new employer and that you would be committed to them if you got the new job. It is not such a black mark.

Good luck!


James Caan wrote an article on this topic recently (6-Aug-2015), if you are interested: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/i-hate-my-job-can-have-old-one-back-please-james-caan-cbe

The article mentions selling points for your old employer to re-hire you, e.g. cultural fit


Going back is acceptable but personally I would only do it if I thought I could change things. So - before you do - try to learn a new skill in the time you have and knowing what was wrong or what was frustrating you should inform what you concentrate on in the mean time.


While I have never gone back, I did appologize to my first manager about a year after I quit. Like the OP, I was frustrated, young, and stupid. I learned a lot from every job I have had and don't really regret taking or leaving any of them though.

Be humble, when interviewing if you get the change, and definitely in the cover letter when applying. State how you made a rash decision and have learned from it and are now wiser for it.

  • I agree with everything but the last part on saying you "learned" from a rash mistake and are now wiser. You're basically asking new employers to take a chance with you because you want to prove you aren't going to just bail on them one day. If this was 5 years down the road after getting a new job and you're at a new interview and they're looking back at time gaps and you explain that, then yeah it might make sense.
    – Dan
    Aug 7 '15 at 19:06

The worst they can say is no. However you can predict what their answer will be based on several factors. For one, and probably most importantly, if they still have a position open. And secondly, going to largely depend on how you left the company. If you put in your two weeks, and left on good notice, then it's going to come down really to whether or not they have a position open.

When you quit a job, always make sure you don't burn any bridges. That means giving them a two weeks notice, and never telling them that you dislike them or anything.

However, for future employers don't tell them that you were "frustrated" with your last job. Instead, just say you left to pursue new opportunities. Remember, don't ever say anything bad about your last company.

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