Careers

Hate your new job? Here’s how to return to your old job

An employee of Lehman Brothers Holdings carries a box out of the company's headquarters building (background) September 15, 2008 in New York City. Lehman Brothers filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court after attempts to rescue the storied financial firm failed.
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An employee of Lehman Brothers Holdings carries a box out of the company's headquarters building (background) September 15, 2008 in New York City. Lehman Brothers filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court after attempts to rescue the storied financial firm failed.

The scariest thing about taking a new job is that you can't really know what you're getting into … until you're already in it. Sure, you can learn to recognize red flags during a job interview (potential bad bosses, a corporate culture that's just not a good fit). But people can fool you.

If you came across this post because you were frantically googling, "I hate my new job," the good news is that you're not alone. Even better news? You can get out of this, possibly even by going back to your old job.

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That's right: If you didn't burn your bridges, and kind of liked your old gig, there's a solid chance that you can go back to it. Here's how:

1. Don't jump right away

Starting a new job is hard, especially if you were at your old company for a while. Unless there's a compelling reason to leave immediately (e.g., you're being harassed or otherwise feel unsafe), consider whether it might be worth sticking it out for a while — even if it's not a long while.

"I always advise people to give it six months if they can," career coach Mark Strong tells Jacquelyn Smith at Forbes. "Change is hard and can be very uncomfortable. Most of the time, people figure things out and get comfortable enough to stay long-term."

Sticking around for a while will also give you the chance to develop new skills, which could improve your bargaining position when if you do return. You might even be able to get a pay increase from your old employer.

2. Strike a balanced tone

Don't take anything for granted, but don't assume that you'll have to grovel, either.

Things may have changed at your old company, and quickly. They might have filled your former position, the reporting structure might have changed, etc. On the other hand, there's something to be said for someone who knows the organization and the team. You won't need the same ramp-up time, for example, as a completely new hire.

So, be humble … but not too humble. Keep your focus positive. Talk about what you can do in the role and how much you enjoyed working at the company. Don't talk smack about your most recent employer or get into the weeds discussing everything that went wrong.

3. Ask the right way

"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," suggests Dave Smith at The Guardian. "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."

Not sure what to say? Alison Doyle, the job search expert at The Balance, offers a free template that you can adapt to your situation.

4. Be ready to answer some tough questions

Obviously, your old boss will know that things didn't work out — that's why you're hoping to return.

"Be prepared to answer questions — lots of questions," Doyle says. "Prepare answers to questions about why you want your job back and why the company should rehire you. You'll need to be convincing."

Doyle also recommends having a plan B in place, in case returning to your old job doesn't work out.

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This article originally appeared on PayScale.