Going Back; Going Forward

Recently a friend told me she was returning to her former place of employment.  “Why would you want to be going back there?” I asked. “I thought you wanted to be going forward in your career?” The idea of her returning to that employer was a bit of a surprise because when she left her job with that employer she was not happy.  She had resigned after working there for several years and on many occasions had conveyed being miserable working for that company, the managers and alongside several coworkers.
So what was the motivation to return?
She loved the work.  She loved what she did and missed it while doing other things in the interim before returning. But she admitted to thinking long and hard about returning to the employer that made her life so difficult.  Among other reasons, one of the supervisors who she thought demeaning, had departed the company, and a former coworker who was not doing their job had been fired.  My friend felt the environment would be far less toxic and far more productive.
But there were other reasons for her to return as well.  In the time she was away from the company, she discovered there were not as many places as she’d thought where she could apply her hard-won skills.  Not wanting to waste her education and training on positions unrelated to her background left her feeling like she had little choice but to return.
Another motivating factor was money.  The employer wanted her to come back, and made her an offer that was hard to ignore, offering her a substantial bump in salary, and a couple of perks to sweeten the deal. My friend admitted to me that while the monetary offer was enticing, doing what she loved to do was far more important, and she would have returned without the raise in pay. Her time away from the job changed her perspective on the value she felt she brought to her department and the people she worked with, fortifying her confidence that she had more to accomplish and felt going back was going forward.
Job satisfaction, engagement, feeling like you are making a contribution, and enjoying the environment you’re in for 8+ hours a day are not factors to ignore in the initial acceptance of a job, or when facing the opportunity to return after a personal hiatus.  Certainly a lot of skills may be transferable from one type of job to another, and may even afford opportunities for new successes.  But there is a level of comfort that comes with the familiar; not just the surrounding environment but the functions and actions that are part of that daily endeavor that make returning seem like the right choice.
But having time away from that employer can also provide different perspectives, and perhaps heighten one’s understanding of the things that drove them crazy on the job and the reasons why they wanted to leave in the first place.  Maybe there were policies you didn’t like, or unavoidable personality conflicts, lack of recognition for contributions, or the distance and time of your commute.  Remembering and assessing why you left and trying to find out how much, if anything, has changed for the better or not, should be fully acknowledged and understood prior to committing to return.  If you don’t thrive in chaos and the place remains as it was, going back will likely be the wrong move.
Returning to a former employer is not the right move for everyone.  Sure, you can go home again, but will doing so add to your happiness and appreciation for what you have?  Only you can determine if going back is the right move for you and your career.  Going back, or moving forward?  If there are enough personal and professional incentives for returning, then maybe going back (if the opportunity is there!) is going forward, and the right thing for you to do.  But if after a thorough assessment you believe returning to a former employer will not net you the satisfaction you seek, your best course of action is going forward … to another employer.  Going back or going forward, I wish you the best.
For more ideas on maximizing your efforts going forward or going back, your job search and other career development topics, please search this blog and visit:  hanklondon.com or contact me.