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How to Quit a New Job & Go Back to the Old Job

by Ruth Mayhew, studioD

Landing a new job and then quickly finding out you made a mistake leaving the job you had can be a disheartening experience. Here, you thought you were embarking upon a new career challenge, only to discover that you should have stayed in your previous role. The sooner you address the mistake and tell your new employer that the job isn't a good fit for you, the better. It's all in the way you manage your choices and whether you maintain solid professional relationships.


The cliche' "Never burn your bridges," might be trite, but it's sound advice for maintaining professional relationships, especially when you resign from a job. Ideally, the best working relationship is when your boss supports your career goals, even if that means you leave the company to pursue your goals with another employer. Before you tendered your resignation, hopefully, your boss left the door open for you to come back if your new job doesn't work out. Whenever you resign, do it in a dignified manner so that you preserve your business relationships.

New Job

It could be 30 days, 90 days or even six months before you realize that you've made a mistake by accepting the new job. Even at six months, you're still relatively new on the job, yet you have spent enough time in the new role to know whether you're actually suited for it. From an HR perspective, it's sometimes best to end the working relationship before the company has invested too much money in training, benefits and management to develop your skills or expertise.

Immediate Regret

If you discover that your new job isn't at all what you thought it would be -- even after just a few days -- you might have an easier time going back to your old job before they've hired your replacement. In this case, wait until you've had the meeting with your previous employer before you resign, unless you're willing to chance it and just leave your new job. Of course, if you simply cannot work for the new company for what you believe are ethical reasons or you just don't feel comfortable in the role, you might chance resigning first and trust that you can get your old job back.


Contact your previous employer to discuss whether you have the option to return to your old job, suggests New York-based executive coach Mark Strong in a ''Forbes'' article. This might be one of the most important meetings in your career, so prepare to answer some hard questions about why you want to come back. Don't count on convincing your previous employer to give you back your old job because the company can't possibly do without your expertise. Humility is a wonderful attribute at this point. The ability to admit that you made a poor career choice will get your further than an arrogant or cocky attitude about why the company should take you back. Strong says that employers that welcome back former employees can benefit from the positive message it conveys to current staff.

Another Resignation

Before you tender another resignation, assess your reasons and schedule another meeting. This time, the meeting is with your new boss. Again, self-importance and egotism won't cast a positive light on your professional reputation. Explain to your new boss that you believe you made a mistake and that you want to save the company money and time by giving him your resignation now. Also, if you were one of several very qualified candidates in the running for the job, you might allude to the company being able to find a replacement from the finalists for the job. Apologize for the inconvenience you may have caused the company and wish them well in the company's success.

About the Author

Ruth Mayhew began writing in 1985. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry" and "Human Resources Managers Appraisal Schemes." Mayhew earned senior professional human resources certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute and holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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