Career Change:  How to Get Your Old Job Back - Tips from Leadership Expert Kimberly Bishop

By Kimberly Bishop

Leadership expert and executive recruiter Kimbely Bishop is a managing director at Korn/Ferry International and an instructor at the Learning Annex. She counsels senior executives about how to make a career change, explore new opportunities and identify the transferable skills needed to succeed in a new industry.

"Sometimes new jobs just don’t work out for a variety of reasons. Maybe the job is not what you thought it would be or maybe you’re just not happy about the work. Bishop believes, if


you made a mistake, own up to it and try to get your old job back. But, she cautions, use common sense and think through the pros and cons."


You just spent six months or a year on a job search. You activated your network, called in favors, did research, and told your old manager what you didn’t like about the position.
How do you begin to pick up the pieces and start over?

Think about why you left in the first place. What were the drawbacks and how can they be improved (manager, workload, culture, compensation).

Be prepared to suggest ways you can begin to affect change. It’s not unlikely that the same issues you found irritating the first time around will rear their ugly heads again.
Have a plan ready as to how you will handle challenges when you face them a second time.

If you want your old job back, you will have to work harder to regain trust and prove to management that you’re worth the investment.

Is there a skill you were lacking when you left? If so, be sure you have it when you return.


You know the work, you know the organization. You are familiar with the formal and informal networks. You know how to get things done and don’t have to be retrained.

Were you drawn back to the organization because of its mission or because of your passion for the industry, the work and the people you served? If so, make sure to share this with management.

Rehearse your answer to the tough question you will undoubtedly be asked: “Why should we hire you back.” Have this down pat. “Most important,” Bishop adds. “Show integrity. Don’t let your pride get in the way. Admit that you made a mistake. Call everyone you asked to help with your job search and explain what happened, what you learned and how you would do things differently the next time around. Remember we learn from our mistakes and change is always for the best.”

About Kimberly Bishop

Kimberly Bishop is a managing director in the New York office of Korn/Ferry International. Bishop specializes in the recruitment and leadership development of senior-level executives and board directors. A sought-after speaker, Kimberly is frequently asked to talk about best practices in leadership and executive development, and trends in financial services and banking. A board director of the Committee of 200 (C200), FDNY Foundation, ACCION USA and The Bottomless Closet, Kimberly was named a Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts, and received the New York Women’s Agenda Star Award in 2006.