How to Get Rehired After You Quit

If you’ve realized that quitting your last job was a mistake and you want to get rehired, all is not lost. You can redeem yourself with your ex-boss as long as you left on reasonably good terms. And even if you didn’t, you still might have a chance.

Here are 5 steps to make amends and get rehired.

1. Know Where You Stand

The number one rule for your career is to avoid burning bridges. Your reputation is your most valuable asset. Being well-liked by colleagues and former bosses can open—or close—all sorts of doors in your professional life, so try and remain on good terms.

Before you approach your former boss about rehiring, find out where your stand and what to expect.

  • Check with human resources to make sure your old position is still available.
  • Reach out to friends or connections from your former job to learn your standing at the company.

2. Realize What Went Wrong

Making mistakes every now and then is okay, as long as you’re able to learn from your mistakes and take responsibility for your decisions.

When you ask for your old job back, your former supervisor will want an explanation, so be prepared to give one.

  • Take some time to reflect on the reasons you left your previous job.
  • Identify where you went wrong.
  • Figure out how the experience made you more appreciative of your old job.
  • Determine why you want to return to it now.

3. Prepare Your Explanation

Your former supervisor may have no idea why you left. And they will certainly ask why you think they should bring you back.

Your response should be neither arrogant nor groveling. Regardless of your former status at the company, your recent departure may have damaged your credibility and demoted your status. Your goal is to be remorseful while maintaining a level of self-respect.

Explain that you understand their hesitancy in bringing you back, but you want a second chance and a fresh start. Demonstrate that if they rehire you,you’re willing to work harder than ever to prove your commitment to the company.

Be as genuine as possible and give plenty of concrete examples to support your case.

4. Make Your Case in Person

Once you’ve decided to ask to come back, request an in-person meeting with your former supervisor. Without going into too many details, just state that your new position is not working out, and you’d love to talk about returning to your former position if that’s something they’d be interested in.

Emailing, rather than calling, avoids a knee-jerk response from your ex-manager and gives them a chance to pull their thoughts together before responding.

If you don’t hear back, you could go directly to the office and camp out in the lobby until your ex-boss has a free moment. Before going, ask friends in the department when a good time would be for your stakeout. Just be prepared to accept defeat if your former manager refuses to see you.

5. Ask for a Fresh Start

If you can’t get rehired in your old job, but you haven’t damaged your reputation at the company, consider applying for a job at a higher level—especially if you’ve been away for a while and have gained new skills.

In a way, this might be a better way to go. The company can more easily justify hiring you back after you’ve gained new experience, rather than rehiring you because you made a mistake. Remember, even if the new job involves a different supervisor, reach out to your former boss and try to make amends. Their assessment of you can play a big part in whether or not you get a chance to start again at the company.

Although getting your old job to rehired your after you quit might seem like a long shot, remember that you have familiarity going for you. Hiring new people is expensive and time-consuming. An old employee already knows the way around and can be up and running from day one—something to keep in your back pocket when making your case.

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Nicole Cavazos writes about the job market for ZipRecruiter.

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