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If You Leave on Good Terms, Your Employer May Hire You Back
People get fired from jobs for a variety of reasons, and it's not unheard of for an employee to come back to the company, even after a termination has taken place.
Reason for Firing
Your chances of being hired back to a job after getting terminated or quitting varies based on the reason for the end of employment.
Serious breach of trust: If you were fired because of fraud, embezzlement, theft, harassment or assault, chances are not good that your employer will welcome you back with open arms. If this is the case, consider working on the issues that led to the initial termination and reinvent yourself as someone who is contrite, trustworthy and has changed to the point of being ready to reenter the workforce.
Poor performance: If you were fired because you were ill-equipped to do your job, you need to change the issues that led to your being terminated before you can ask for your job back. For example, if you have poor customer service skills, take a continuing education or professional development class on customer service techniques to help you improve your skills and demonstrate to your employer that you’re prepared to do the job effectively.
Not a good fit: If you weren’t a good fit for a position but have since gained additional experience, use that as a conversational opener. For example, if you were previously not assertive enough in a sales role, but are now more confident and have a proven sales track record earned elsewhere, focus your pitch on the measurable strides you’ve made.
Conflict issues: If you were fired because you couldn’t get along with other staffers or you lost your temper on a frequent basis, you’ll have to prove things will be different the second time around. For example, take an anger management class or go through a period of personal reflection via a therapist, so you can come back to your employer and demonstrate you now have new skills and techniques for handling workplace discourse.
You quit: If you voluntarily left your role, you may be able to go back to your old company if you can demonstrate why you now recognize the move was a poor choice. Example: “I thought moving into a managerial role was the right thing for me, but I now realize I prefer a strong team environment like the one we have here.”
You were laid off: If you were downsized for reasons that had nothing to do with your performance, you have a better chance of going back to the company when it recovers sufficiently enough to start rebuilding its workforce. Focus on the attributes you brought to the position the first time you were hired.
Note: Your company may have "rehire eligibility" parameters in place that dictate whether or not you are a candidate for rehire.
Asking via Email
Asking for a job back after you’ve been fired is a delicate undertaking. Sending an email to your former supervisor or hiring manager gives you an opportunity to fully state your case and provide examples of change. This approach also gives a hiring manager the opportunity to read your proposal and give it full consideration, rather than be taken by surprise with a face-to-face meeting or a phone call.
If you had a good relationship with your boss and want to talk by phone or in person about the potential for rehire, contact the manager and ask for a few dedicated minutes of time to discuss a professional matter. This approach ensures the boss has time set aside, and you won't be interrupted.
Lay Out Your Qualifications
In some ways, asking for an old job back is much like interviewing for a job the first time around. When you start a discussion with your former boss, acknowledge past shortcomings and emphasize the professional skills, abilities and credentials that made you a desirable job candidate in the first place. If you had an exceptional sales record, if clients loved you, if you were a good supervisor, or had exceptional time management skills or a creative vision, emphasize these traits in accordance with downplaying or explaining the reason you were originally fired.
“I realize in the past that I had poor time management skills. However, I'm sure you will agree that the creativity I was able to bring to the advertising team was very valuable in attracting and retaining clients, and I hope that the organizational skills classes I’ve subsequently taken have helped eradicate the other issues that led to my poor performance reviews and subsequent termination.”
An employer needs to be assured that whatever offense you were fired for doesn't repeat itself or become another new problem in the workplace. Be frank, honest and address the issue head-on. Someone who has fired you is going to be naturally wary of rehiring you. Encourage the hiring manager to ask questions, share doubts and have an open dialogue.
Ask for a Trial Run
If the hiring manager still seems wary about hiring you back, ask for a short-term trial run to prove yourself. This can be beneficial for both you and the employer, as your boss will have an opportunity to see you in action for round two, and you’ll have an opportunity to decide if you still gel with the company, the boss and former colleagues.
Be Willing to Compromise
Even if you are re-hired by a company that fired you, don't expect to re-enter the fold at your previous level of seniority or at the same pay scale. Be humble and willing to start rebuilding your reputation by starting at the bottom, if necessary.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.