5 Ways to Get Your Old Job Back if You Regret Your ‘Great Resignation’

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During the pandemic, the new term “The Great Resignation” came into the cultural consciousness. It refers to the record amounts of people quitting their jobs over the past few years and still continuing to leave today in mass exits.

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According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the number of people bidding farewell to their workplace topped 47.8 million in 2021, or just about 4 million people every month. That is the highest number on record of any year in American history. As the Pew Research Center found, many of the reasons given were feeling disrespected in a workplace, making less than desired wages and feeling like there were no opportunities for advancement. 

But apparently, not everyone has found greener pastures. According to a new survey by Joblist that polled 15,000 people currently searching for new gigs, 26% said they regretted leaving behind their old job. Among the reasons given were that it was too difficult to find a new position, even with unemployment at historic lows and 10.7 million jobs open as of late June, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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The other hangup for long-term happiness in new jobs has been ongoing inflation. Whereas workers might have felt empowered leaving their jobs at the height of the pandemic, when employers were doing a lot to attract talent, now ongoing inflation has halted the opportunity for higher wages, according to Business Insider. 

They spoke to the Economic Policy Institute’s Elise Gould who shared, “Let’s say you had a little bit of bargaining power in the fall because employers had to work a little harder to attract and retain you, and maybe you got higher wages, maybe you got some kind of a signing bonus. There’s nothing structural in our economy that makes that last permanently, or even in the medium term.”

Though the Joblist report doesn’t as much hit on the 74% of the participants that did think moving on to a new position was beneficial, it turns out some people are even trying to return to their former jobs. The industry term is known as a “boomerang” and doing so may have benefits for the employer too. CNBC spoke to James Bailey, a professor at George Washington University School of Business focusing on leadership development. 

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As he shared, “The cost of onboarding brand-new people as opposed to hiring back boomerangs is just way too high,” he said. “Recruitment and training are expensive.”

It’s clear the tide is changing with former employees. One of the hardest hit sectors has been the service industry, in particular restaurant workers. But that is one of the fields seeing an upward trend in hiring and re-hiring workers due to an interesting dynamic spurred on by inflation. 

As prices go up for food on menus, workers are being drawn to the higher tipping potential on restaurant checks, as Danny Meyer, the founder of Union Square Hospitality Group, has found. “For the first time [since the COVID pandemic struck], we’re actually on equal footing in terms of our talent count as we were in 2020 when we first had to stop doing business,” he told “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer.

For anyone wanting their old gig back, all hope is not lost. Job hub Indeed has some tips when it comes to re-employment. First, they advise to question if you really want the position back and are willing to be re-hired, re-trained and set to the same standards. As well, you should consider if leaving put you on bad terms with the company – if so, you may want to forego being in touch with them again. But if you gave two weeks notice and ended amicably, chances are you are in good standing. 

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Here are more ideas from Indeed:

  1. Get in touch with former co-workers to get their take on the situation and see if they can put in a good word.
  2. See if your job or any similar ones are open at the moment that you can note you are interested in and that might be a seamless transition for the company.
  3. Have answers ready for what questions they might ask, such as why you left originally and why you want your job back.
  4. Aim for an in-person meeting rather than communicating over email. This makes it more personable and may remind them why you were so great to work with the first time.
  5. Be ready to compromise, such as if they offer a trial period or part-time position before bringing you back full-time.

Indeed also offers a mock letter that you can use as a template to get the conversation started with your former employer.

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About the Author

Selena Fragassi joined GOBankingRates.com in 2022, adding to her 15 years in journalism with bylines in Spin, Paste, Nylon, Popmatters, The A.V. Club, Loudwire, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and others. She currently resides in Chicago with her rescue pets and is working on a debut historical fiction novel about WWII. She holds a degree in fiction writing from Columbia College Chicago.
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