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Career Coach: Returning to a Former Employer

Career Coach: Returning to a Former Employer
By Clare Trapasso

Is it a wise career move to return to a former employer?

Bill Borkovitz Bill_cropped

Bill Borkovitz is a managing director at Kaplan Partners, a Philadelphia-based recruiting firm focused on financial services. One of his specialties is asset management.

Much of it depends on how you exited.
If you had good relationships while you were there and you were honest about the reasons you left and treated them well upon leaving [by] giving proper notice and ensuring that they had coverage for your role, or at least a plan, then you’re more likely to be welcomed back.
The disadvantages would be if you’re truly going backward for safety and security at the expense of growth and challenges. You’re likely to be dissatisfied long-term.
Make no assumptions when you’re returning, because organizations change. One should really do [his or her] homework as though it was a new company before returning. You may think you’re coming back to a familiar place, but it may in fact be foreign.
When it comes to [former colleagues,] you should always keep an open mind. People do grow and change.

Frank Carr
Frank Carr is the managing director of MJE Advisors, an asset management recruiting firm based in Florham Park, N.J.

I usually don’t recommend it. In some cases, people are perceived as having left the firm, so there can be some negative feelings from colleagues or bosses. There can be the perception that they were disloyal. [Or] management may not trust them to stay for a long time.
If somebody left a firm at a more junior level, management would still perceive that person at that level. They may not be considered for other more senior positions. Sometimes [it’s] perceived by other potential employers as a question mark.
Oftentimes, management would understand that someone would want to pursue an entrepreneurial role [at a smaller firm], but then realized that a bigger firm was more stable and returned. If it’s within a year, the attitude of the previous employer would be more positive.

Steve Fleming

Steve Fleming is the CEO of Wall Street Options, a recruiting firm specializing in asset management, alternatives investments and investment banking, based in New York.

The key things about going back [are]: Do you have a tangible skill set? Do you have contacts within the company and outside the company that would be open to dealing with you as an employee or a client again?
Anywhere you performed well or had close relationships should be at the top of your list for potential career opportunities. The key thing is a positive attitude and being open to taking on the work.
You should be prepared for change. The people … that are now in more senior positions of power, who you may have liked or disliked, stayed loyal to that company and moved up. There’s nothing you can do about it, so accept it. Be open to change. Don’t hold grudges.
There is a risk in bringing in new employees because [employers] don’t know their work product or their track record. Going back to someone who has a proven track record, with reviews on the record of their performance and people that know them, shows a comfort level to management.
And rehires may come back with new skill sets.