Stack OverflowIs being rehired by a company a bad career move?
[+19] [14] Aaron Daniels
[2009-04-28 20:55:04]
[ career-development hiring ]

I've done this once, and it left sort of a bad taste in my mouth. Specifically, because in many ways I was treated like a new hire, but in other ways I was expected to use my previous knowledge to maintain legacy systems.

I'm curious about other people's experiences, especially details specific to software development.

Also, for you interviewers out there, is being rehired a red flag on a resume?


Let's assume you left on good terms. Of course, if you left on bad terms, odds are the company would not want you back.

I'm wondering if future companies and people are going to look at your rehires and see them as negative. Are they going to assume that if they hire you, you're just going to quit and return to company X again?

(6) This should be community wiki - Seb
I voted to close: "not programming related". - Andrew Hare
(1) I was rehired by my old company and I hated it, so I left. - Robert S.
How is this even remotely related to programming? - Greg Dean
Just because the question has the words "software development" doesn't make it relevant. Wish I had enough rep to vote to close. - Ryan Thames
(1) I asked this question because I do believe that it is relevant to most software developers. Software development has one of the highest turnarounds, and being rehired by a company seems to be very commonplace. - Aaron Daniels
(1) why does every question that has relevance to the software community have to be 'programming related'? - esac
Stack Overflow is not a career advice site. You might be interested in either or - community_owned
[+8] [2009-04-28 21:09:17] Reed Copsey [ACCEPTED]

It depends. If you're being rehired into the same department, for the same job, I'd be wary. If you were being hired for a different (hopefully better) position, or in a different department, then I think it's fine.

From a hiring standpoint, I'd definitely question you about it in an interview. If you do this, be prepared to explain why you went back to your previous employer.

I'd also be wary of this from your perspective, too. If they let you go the first time, there is little to suggest that they'll keep you the second time around. If you left, you may run into hard feelings (even if you leave on good terms), or be forced into a role that you've since outgrown.

Edit in response to question's edit:

I'm wondering if future companies and people are going to look at your rehires and see them as negative. Are they going to assume that if they hire you, you're just going to quit and return to company X again?

I'd definitely ask about it, in an interview. There are many valid reasons you might quit and return, but it also could (potentially) be a sign that you are a person who jumps ship easily, and is not as stable. It's not something that'd I'd see as a red flag - more like a slightly yellowish flag.

[+5] [2009-04-28 21:23:52] jay

Oftentimes, it is a great career move. In many companies it is easy to get pigeon-holed into a certain position or group. By leaving the company you get experience that you might not otherwise get, if you were to remain at the same company. When you return the company, in addition to new opportunities that are open to you, you are often treated with much more respect because you had the courage to go out and expand your skills and experience.

From an employers perspective there are many reasons to rehire someone who has worked at the company before. The biggest has to do with training: you already understand the corporate culture; you probably know who the real operators at the company are; and you might be able to help with some legacy code.

I would think that being rehired by a previous company would look good to a prospective employer. They thought enough of you to rehire you again.

[+5] [2009-04-28 20:59:35] Chris Lively

Being rehired isn't a red flag, but I'd seriously think before returning to a previous company. I've done it twice.

The first time, I left again shortly thereafter because it just didn't sit well. The second time everything was great and I stayed for nearly three years before moving on.

The only difference between the two was that I left the first company because I wanted to take a new job. At the second company I was a contractor whose contract expired because the project completed; they brought me back to run a different project a year later.


Just one more thought. Sometimes, especially in larger companies, it's about the only way to change groups or move up. There was one job I had where I didn't really like the position, the company was good, the people were good, but I was bored out of my mind with the work. Although my manager was okay with a move, HR said that I couldn't reqest a transfer until I had been in my position for two years. I ended up leaving the company completely shortly thereafter.

[+4] [2009-04-28 21:26:49] Zack

There are lots of good reasons why someone would leave a company and then come back later. If I were an interviewer, that would be evidence to me that the company was willing to hire you back so you must have been a good employee.

[+3] [2009-04-28 21:04:37] Paul Sonier

Not necessarily a bad move at all; I think it depends on just what the company is and what your relationship was like. If you left on bad terms and went back because you couldn't find anything else, well, that's not good. But if you left to broaden your horizons, then came back years later bringing a new sense of perspective, there's nothing wrong with that whatsoever. And let's not forget that there are quite a few companies out there that are so large that going back can be like joining a completely new company; corporate culture can vary widely even.

[+2] [2009-04-28 21:07:20] Jeff Davis

Being laid off and then rejoining the same job was actually a great career move in my past. The company saw it as loyalty and it helped me jump right back in at equal or even slightly more prominent position than I had before I left.

I had originally been hired as an intern and the break from my history was very beneficial.

[+2] [2009-04-28 21:00:26] altCognito

The question is, did you leave on bad terms? If you are able to leave on good terms for both parties, then the issues should be relatively small with returning. The idea is to be professional.

That said, I generally would avoid this situation as it does leave all sort of questions unanswered: What's your seniority? Should you be hired into the same group at the same level? Was your position back filled?

If you've been replaced (and most likely you have), it's going to be awkward.

[+2] [2009-04-28 21:30:09] RobS

When I had just landed my second job as a software engineer, one of the older and more experienced developers told me: never go back to a company you've decided to leave.

I've only done it once... My situation was that I was originally a contractor, I left, but was later enticed back with the promise that the company had changed etc. As it turned out, it had not - and leaving both times left a bad taste in my mouth.

I don't believe working for the same company more than once is a bad thing for someone's resume, but repeating the same pattern several times (especially in succession) might give people a bad impression.

Personally, I think that if you have exhausted the various avenues available to you to correct problems you have with an employer and you've decided to leave, the chances of a return to that same company working out are probably fairly slim.

[+1] [2009-04-28 21:29:24] Stephen M. Redd

Tread carefully with a re-hire situation.

First, there probably was a reason you left even if it was on good terms. That reason may or may not still exist, but the suspicion that the reason might return will remain. If they let you go, then you'll always wonder if they'll do it again. If you quit then they will also wonder if you'll do it again. Even under the best circumstances, this will add stress to your professional relationship.

As for the resume, this depends on what you did while you weren't working there and how you write it up. Most people are a little "too honest" on their resume with the timeline of events, and from the potential employer's point of view this is the hardest part for them to confirm (most don't even bother to verify the exact timeline).

I don't advocate telling a lie on your resume... but omitting details that are confusing, or would potentially look bad is standard. It is YOUR resume, and your goal is to write it to market yourself in the best light you can. So here is how you handle this sort of thing without being dishonest, and without making you look bad or raise doubts in your next employer's eyes...

If the absence was short, you can just lit the job on your resume as if you never left using the original start and end dates.

If you don't want to use the job you had in between as a reference even better... just leave out the other job completely and you can just make it look like you never left and get rid of a potentially bad reference too.

If you do want to use the other job on your resume, list it (with the correct dates) on the resume. That looks like you just had two jobs that overlapped... no employer will second guess seeing that on the resume (most aren't reading your resume that deeply).

If the absence was long, you will not be able to do much about it on the resume... but it wouldn't look bad in that case either due to the long time involved. It just looks like you worked there, went off and learned other stuff elsewhere, than returned to a previous company with more experience.

The purpose of the resume is to get their attention and get you to the interview. You can "explain" the details in the interview if they come up. Just don't outright lie though... you will likely get tripped up in the lie later... but you can massage the resume within the limits of truth all you want.

[+1] [2009-04-28 21:16:34] Nate

I say: If the work you'd be doing is interesting, yes. Rejoin. If it looks tedious, stay away.

Simple advice but it's served me well.

[+1] [2009-04-28 21:22:33] highlycaffeinated

From a hiring standpoint, leaving a job and going back later wouldn't be a red flag for me but it would prompt a question in the interview. There are a number of valid reasons for doing this. Some that come to mind are moving away and later returning, attending school full time, and family emergencies.

[0] [2009-04-28 23:17:11] cletus

Being rehired by the same company demonstrates to any future employer that you were valued at that company. They wouldn't have rehired you otherwise. That being said, I wouldn't necessarily take the exact same job. That might indicate a lack of direction. But if it's a better job, sure.

[0] [2009-04-29 00:11:45] Uri

It might be culture dependent, and it also really depends on the reasoning.

For example, many companies encourage you to leave for graduate school and it is quite common to get rehired later.

In other cases, other life events (e.g., wanting to spend more time with the kids, needing to move with a spouse to a different region, etc.) makes you leave a place in good terms. Later on, there's nothing wrong with going back.

I think it is more important to show some progression in your CV. For example, that you have moved up from a junior-level to a senior, etc.

[0] [2009-04-29 00:54:51] benc

I'm going to assume that you meant this, in the context of being a developer... Some of this advice would not apply in other careers (for example: law). I am also assuming that you are worried because this is a apples to apples comparison, not a "return to same very large company", "return with promotion", "return for new job role" question.

You should carefully consider all the related factors, but from my experience, here is what I think is important.

NOTE: I have returned to one company I worked for, I have declined to return to a company I have worked for, and I have tried unsuccessfully to return to two companies I worked for.

Sometimes you leave, and people really want you to come back. Other places, they might miss you when you leave, but be less happy when you return. Some places will undervalue your work and be grateful if you come back.

In each case the most important factor is: how this fits in with your career, both short and long term. People's feelings are important, because they affect your daily happiness, and your ability to find future work and/or get promoted. You want your career choices to be positive and win/win whenever possible.

In the short term, times are rough right now. If you only got one offer and you need work... that is easy. Eating and paying rent is positive.

In the long term, you should think: Why did I leave? Why do they want me to come back? Am I working on the same project/group/product? Is coming back definitely a better opportunity than my other choices?

Finally, you must ask yourself:

"When I (eventually) leave and interview for another job, will I be able to sensibly and honestly explain my choice to future employers?

You should imagine worst case outcome. If you cannot, at this moment, imagine how to explain, in an future interview, why it was the right choice to go back, even though it went horribly bad, you should not go back.