There are many reasons why you may consider approaching a previous employer with a view to returning to familiar shores. Whether it's because your new role isn't quite living up to expectations, the lure of a coveted position which was previously out of reach suddenly becoming available, or simply because you miss your former colleagues. Whatever the reason, you'll need a carefully planned strategy to make sure your homecoming is a success.
Is it possible to go back?
Obviously, if you left under a cloud, then your options may not be as plentiful, but if you left to the sound of much back-patting and a "come back anytime" promise then you could be in business.
Research is always good. Test the water before making your final approach, a few discreet enquires to trusted former colleagues will tell you whether it is an appropriate time to return, and could help you prepare much better than going in blind.
Something else that you should think seriously about is whether you can commit to going back long-term. If you were successful, but then you have a serious bout of déjà vu in your second week – suddenly remembering why you left in the first place – leaving the firm again could spell the end of any good relationship you may have had up until that point, and the boss may not think as favourably about you if ask for a reference.
Making your approach
So, you have decided to venture back across the bridge. If you have only been gone a short time, you could just get back in touch with your ex-boss and let him or her know that you have made a mistake. Send an email though. A telephone call may put them on the spot, so give them space, and give them a chance to have a meeting to discuss the possibility.
If you have been away from the company for a while, do your homework. Is the boss the same person or someone new? A quick phone call to reception will confirm this.
As you have been there before, they know what you did, how well you performed and why you left. There's therefore no need to get too creative about what you have already contributed. Although, if there is a change of manager, you should be prepared for the dreaded "reason for leaving" question in the interview.
As well as highlighting your best achievements, focus on what skills you have picked up since leaving and more importantly, how you are now an even better asset to the firm than you were before. Don't assume it is a foregone conclusion that you will be welcomed back – you will still need to prove yourself.
Your cover letter
This is where all your preparation comes together. If you don't prepare adequately and the boss has changed, at best, your email will bounce back to you, or spend the rest of eternity in cyberspace. At worst, the new manager will receive it, and your opportunity to make a good first impression is gone.
The content of the letter should be fairly formal, you can definitely direct their attention to your former tenure with the firm, but don't dwell on it. Rather like your CV, focus on how you are now an even greater asset to the firm.
Direct the reader's attention to your CV, but don't repeat content that is already mentioned there. You could pre-empt the "reason for leaving" question in your letter, but if you do, you should state clearly why you want to come back.
A final tip on the actual application: get someone to read it over for you, an objective view is often the thing you need to make sure that the overall flavour of your approach is likely to be well received.
Before you even put pen to paper you should check that you have done everything as follows.
A bit obvious, but check the company website, you are likely to either learn a few things, or have confirmed what you already know about the firm.
Open (if you haven't already) a LinkedIn account and reach out to some people who could give you some basic information about the changes that have occurred while you have been away.
If there are still a few gaps in your research after you have done this, you may have to pick up the phone to find out who you need to approach.
David Smith is a job search consultant at Careervisa.co.uk.
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Cover letters allow prospective employees an opportunity to introduce their resume and basic qualifications for a job. Creating a solid cover letter will allow you to highlight your expertise as well as remind your previous employer of your previous affiliation and knowledge of the company. With a little attention to detail, you can encourage your previous employer to take a careful look at the skills and experience you can bring to the position.
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Create a heading for the cover letter consisting of your name, address, phone number and email address. Drop down four lines, then type the date on the left side. Leave two more lines and enter your employer's name, company and address.
Begin your letter with "Dear Mr. Jones," using the employer's real name. As you move into the body of the letter, keep in mind that according to Wendy Enelow of the University of New Mexico, it is best to keep cover letters to one page.
Express your desire to apply for this particular position in the first paragraph. This is a short introductory paragraph of only two or three sentences. In this paragraph, make reference to the fact that you were employed by this company previously and that it would be a privilege to work for them again.
Highlight your skills and expertise in the next paragraph or two. Trinity College Career Services Department states that the purpose of a cover letter is to grab the employer's attention. Listing your skills and accomplishments in the form of a bullet list often catches the employer's eye immediately.
Mention the skills that best align with those detailed in the job description. State that since you have worked for the company before, you are familiar with the organization's structure and procedures.
State in your last paragraph that you would appreciate the opportunity to once again serve the company. Ask for the privilege of meeting for an interview. By asking for an interview, you are in essence asking the employer to take action by contacting you. Lastly, thank the employer for her time and consideration of your resume.
Close the letter with "Cordially," "Sincerely" or a similar closing word or phrase. Drop down four lines and type your full name. This will allow room to insert your handwritten signature.
By paying attention to detail and displaying enthusiasm for the job, your cover letter will give your previous employer insight into your current skills and past experience.
- Resume Notes
- Resume Paper
- Update your resume before writing the cover letter to include your current skills, courses completed and other job qualifications. Type your cover letter on the same resume quality paper that you use to print your actual resume. White or cream colored paper is usually preferred.