Career move: Can I ask for my old job back? Ask HR

With every new job, there’s always going to be an adjustment period, Johnny C. Taylor Jr. advises. (Photo: Getty Images)

Johnny C. Taylor Jr., a human resources expert, is tackling your questions as part of a series for USA TODAY. Taylor is president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, the world’s largest HR professional society.

The questions are submitted by readers, and Taylor’s answers below have been edited for length and clarity.

Have a question? Do you have an HR or work-related question you’d like me to answer? Submit it here.

Question: I recently accepted a new opportunity I thought would be the best move for my career path. I quickly learned that it was not a good fit for me. Can I ask for my old job back? – Anonymous

Johnny C. Taylor Jr.: I appreciate your honesty. Yes, you can ask for your old job back, but before you make a final decision, there are a few things you may want to consider – after all, you left your previous job for a reason.

You don’t mention how long you’ve been at your new position, but I’ll say this: With every new job, there’s always going to be an adjustment period. You simply won’t learn the ins and outs of a new organization and get used to a new culture, new people manager and new co-workers overnight. This takes time and there may be a few speed bumps along the way.

First, there are several questions you should ask yourself: If you left because of money, will returning to your old job make sense financially? If you left because you didn’t align with the culture, would returning put you back in the same situation as before? If you left because you felt you were no longer growing or being challenged, would going back also mean taking a step back in your career development?

If you decide returning to your previous job is the right option for you, I encourage you to do your homework. Be prepared to explain why it would be beneficial for your previous employer to rehire you and express your commitment to the company. Be honest and share why your new job isn’t a good fit for your career goals.

You aren’t the first person to leave a job and decide to return, and you likely won’t be the last. No matter the outcome, I want to stress the importance of staying respectful and professional. Even if returning to your previous job is no longer an option, there could be other opportunities in the future either with your former employer or elsewhere.

I wish you the best!

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