You Put In Your Notice, but You Changed Your Mind — Now What Do You Do?

businessman looking at monitor in office
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Amid the Great Resignation, Americans are eyeing greener pastures and quitting their jobs left and right. But sometimes we quit a bit too hastily, or we quit and then our next-step plan falls through. When this happens, people may find themselves wanting their old jobs back — even before they’ve walked out of the office for good. Others may find, after some time away from their last company, that they had it pretty sweet there after all, and they would like to rejoin their old company. 

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It’s actually not the most unusual scenario. People want their old jobs (or companies) back all the time.  

“According to recent Monster data, the majority of workers (61%) would consider returning to work for a previous employer,” said Monster career expert Vicki Salemi. “The top reasons include additional financial compensation, benefits and work perks along with an improvement in work culture. It’s particularly important to note that if you work in a new job and want to return to your previous employer, more than one-third of respondents indicated they would return to a previous employer if their current job no longer met their expectations.”

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So what do you do if you’ve already given your notice but have since changed your mind? 

Make Sure You Really Want This

It’s already a kind of odd move to waltz back into your boss’ office after waltzing out and saying you want to keep your job, after all. So please be absolutely certain that you want to do this. To make sure you are, work on some self-reflection. 

“You left your job for a reason. Determine why you left and be brutally honest with yourself,” said Thomas Brunskill, CEO and co-founder of Forage. “If you felt you weren’t getting compensated fairly, then find out what other companies are paying for a similar role. If it was the company culture, then you probably still won’t be happy going back. Don’t make the same mistake twice. Once you reflect, you will feel confident that you’re making the right decision and will feel more comfortable asking for your old job back.”

Explore Why You’re Feeling Apprehensive 

“Identify the reasons you’re feeling apprehensive about your decision [to leave],” said Jeramy Kaiman, head of LHH Recruitment Solutions, West, at the Adecco Group. “Are you unsure you want to leave your current employer, or are you concerned about the new job you are taking? If it is the latter, it may be best for you to decline the offer and look for a new role, rather than trying to stay with your current employer. The job market is exceptionally strong, which should make this decision easier, as you will likely be met with a host of options.”

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Get Time On Your Boss’ Calendar 

“When you’ve decided you definitely want to get your old job back or rescind your resignation, schedule time on the calendar with your former (or current) boss,” Salemi said. 

Remember, wanting to get back in your old role — or company — isn’t unusual, per the aforementioned Monster data. So don’t feel embarrassed or guilty. 

“The meeting should be a conversation — ideally in person, if not then over video or on the phone,” Salemi said. “This isn’t something you should put in Slack, email or text. You can practice ahead of time, but remember the conversation should come across as authentic and genuine, not rehearsed/canned.” 

Prep for a Dialogue — Not a Monologue

“Once the meeting is on the calendar, prepare what you’re going to say and have expectations set for a dialogue, not a monologue,” Salemi said. “Tell yourself whatever the outcome is, you’ll be okay since your boss may not open you back immediately with open arms or it may take time to get the job approved if it’s not currently open, etc. Be prepared for any scenario.” 

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Explain Your Decision With Passion and Authenticity 

“You can state something like, ‘When I gave my two weeks’ notice, I accepted a job offer based on a skill I want to develop, but realize now — hopefully before it’s too late — that I can hone that here and this is really my home, my work family,'” Salemi said. “Or something like, ‘When I left working here, I wanted to pursue XYZ and now that I’ve done that for a year, I’ve realized there’s a deadend in my current job although I’ve enjoyed my colleagues, the company and the work, I’m hoping to return here to leverage what I’ve learned…'”

What’s most important here, Salemi highlights, is to be authentic and enthusiastic about your return without badmouthing your current/future employer. 

Pause, Observe, Then Make the Ask 

“Read your boss’s body language and state the question: ‘Would it be possible for me to return?’ or something like, ‘So, if it’s not too late now that I’ve rescinded, I would love to remain working here. Is that possible?'”  

Getting Back a Job You’ve Not Left Is Easier 

Either way, you may face difficulty getting a former or soon to be former job back; but if you haven’t yet cut yourself entirely loose yet, you are likely in a better position than if you’re coming back begging after months or more. 

“Your boss may have some hesitation thinking at some point you may resign again, but that could occur anyway even if you didn’t just give your two weeks’ notice,” Salemi said. “Without knowing specifics of your particular situation, office dynamics, etc. this is likely an easier fix than asking for an old job back when you no longer work there.

“When you no longer work there, your old job may no longer be available and considering one of the best ways to boost your salary involves securing employment with a new employer, you may not want your old job anyway,” Salemi continued. “You’ve probably gained valuable skills and experiences since you left and in turn, will likely need a more challenging job with more responsibilities as well as a higher salary.”

But if you do want back a job you’ve already left behind, talk to your old boss to see what opportunities currently exist at the company. 

“Send your resume, see if you need to speak to different people within the organization/network for other departments,” Salemi said. “You can state your case by indicating you already know the culture although cultures do change over time, your ramp up time as a new hire will be considerably less than as a rehire.”

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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