Going for round two

Five steps to return to an old employer

You just couldn’t stay put, could you? Just a few years ago, you were one of those impulsive 20-something professionals with a burning desire to conquer the workplace. You kissed your cushy, supervisory position at ABC & Co. good-bye and set out to make your mark in the wild, wacky world of . . . e-widgets. (Hey, it sounded like a great career opportunity at the time.)

Fortunately, the time you spent at Widgets .com wasn’t all in vain. You did come away with some valuable e-skills that would benefit your old company and translate into increased responsibility and a more lucrative compensation package for you. But will ABC management welcome you back?

Probably. “It’s not that surprising when you think about it,” says Allen Salikof, president and CEO of Management Recruiters International Inc., in Cleveland, Ohio, one of the world’s largest search and recruitment firms. “A good employee who has left, acquired new skills and experience, and come back can be an extraordinarily good deal for a company. And in some cases, it may actually catapult the employee to a higher position than he or she would have reached by staying.”

It isn’t difficult to become a “boomerang” employee. Consider these five suggestions from Salikof to help get you started:

  • Never burn bridges if you want to be remembered as “dearly departed.” Your old company will remember your exit behavior, and it will tint its impression of the job you did while you were there.
  • K.I.T. That is to say, you should keep in touch, professionally and socially, during your absence. For example, send birthday cards and attend special events such as anniversaries. This will help prolong the life of your professional network.
  • Send your pride packing. Your former employer isn’t a mind reader. He or she won’t know you want to come back unless you say so.
  • Don’t show up empty-handed. Know what you’ll be bringing back to the party. If you want more responsibility and a bigger paycheck, you’ll need to demonstrate the skills and experience your “sabbatical” afforded you.
  • Reach back and touch someone. It can’t hurt to have a current employee at your old haunt in your corner. Call up someone you trust and respect, share your situation with that person, and let him or her act as your backer when it comes time to talk with management.

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