It's every job seeker's worst nightmare: you get a job offer for a fantastic new position, accept it and give notice to your current employer. Something goes wrong and the job offer falls through. Your only options are to start your job search from scratch or go to your current employer and ask for your old job. The way you approach the task can have an impact on whether your boss is willing to take you back.
Talk to Your Boss ASAP
Don't let too much time go by before you talk to your boss about the potential of getting your job back. If the position is already filled, you'll put your boss in a difficult position. Be up front and honest about the circumstances. “The job offer I had fell through. I'd like to stay in my current position if that's something you'd be open to.” Expect resistance from your boss if you left on bad terms or resigned your position because you were unhappy about a pay raise or your work assignments.
Reassure Your Boss
Your boss is already aware that you were conducting a job search or were otherwise willing to leave your job for something better. Reassure him of your dedication to your current company so he doesn't think you're a short-termer who will soon jump ship again. “I know your faith in me might be diminished because of my plans to leave for another job. In all honesty, I didn't go looking for the position, but when the opportunity for a management role came up, I felt the need to take advantage. Please rest assured that I will fully rededicate myself to my job at this company.”
Be Willing to Compromise
Depending on the job you left and the way your organization is structured, you might have to make some sacrifices to get your old job back. Talk to human resources about expectations. You might be hired back at a lower pay level, lose seniority or have a waiting period to reestablish health-care benefits or start accruing vacation time. You might also be asked to sign an employment contract or no-compete agreement to make the company comfortable that if you're rehired you'll be staying put for a period of time.
In the Future
Make sure a new job offer is set in stone before giving notice to your current employer. Get a signed contract in place to ensure the job is yours. This helps you avoid the uncomfortable situation from arising again and helps you maintain a professional image. If a potential employer hesitates about putting the offer in writing, explain that you’re uncomfortable giving notice without the promise of new employment. A legitimate employer will understand your rationale.
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