Ask HR: My New Job Didn’t Work Out. Can I Ask for My Old Job Back?

By Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP June 11, 2021
Ask HR: My New Job Didn’t Work Out. Can I Ask for My Old Job Back?

​Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP

SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, is answering HR questions as part of a series for USA Today.

Do you have an HR or work-related question you'd like him to answer? Submit it here.


I recently accepted a new opportunity I thought would be the best move for my career path. I quickly learned that it was not a good fit for me. Can I ask for my old job back? —Anonymous

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: I appreciate your honesty. Yes, you can ask for your old job back, but before you make a final decision, there are a few things you may want to consider. After all, you left your previous job for a reason.

You don't mention how long you've been at your new position, but I'll say this: With every new job, there's always going to be an adjustment period. You simply won't learn the ins and outs of a new organization and get used to a new culture, new people manager and new co-workers overnight. This takes time, and there may be a few speed bumps along the way.

First, there are several questions you should ask yourself: If you left because of money, will returning to your old job make sense financially? If you left because you didn't align with the culture, would returning put you back in the same situation as before? If you left because you felt you were no longer growing or being challenged, would going back also mean taking a step back in your career development?

If you decide returning to your previous job is the right option for you, I encourage you to do your homework. Be prepared to explain why it would be beneficial for your previous employer to rehire you and express your commitment to the company. Be honest and share why your new job isn't a good fit for your career goals.

You aren't the first person to leave a job and decide to return, and you likely won't be the last. No matter the outcome, I want to stress the importance of staying respectful and professional. Even if returning to your previous job is no longer an option, there could be other opportunities in the future either with your former employer or elsewhere.

I wish you the best!


Now that summer is here and I am fully vaccinated, I want to take some much-needed vacation. However, everyone else in my office is thinking the same thing. How can I respectfully ask for time off while still being a good team member? —Anonymous

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: With summer right around the corner, this is a very timely question. And if you're anything like me, you too are eagerly anticipating some much-needed time away from the office.

You're not the only one thinking about this—nearly 1 in 5 organizations have already made or will make changes to their vacation policies due to the pandemic. As more people receive the COVID-19 vaccine and restrictions lift, many employees are submitting time-off requests to make up for the vacations they were unable to take last year.

First, I want to stress that you should never feel bad about going on vacation. Taking the occasional day or week away from work in no way discredits you as a team player. A break from work responsibilities recharges your batteries. It reduces stress and leads to better performance and happier workers—businesses know this.

That said, I understand the importance of not leaving your team hanging, especially if it's a busy period for your organization. There are a few things you can, and should, do out of courtesy for your teammates. This includes notifying your people manager in advance and ensuring there's coverage available, if possible.

Some times of the year are more popular than others for scheduling vacations, including summer, major holidays and school breaks. With that in mind, you might need to be more flexible about your timing. If you are asking for a large block of time off, such as two weeks, you might have to limit yourself to taking one at a time.

Also, I encourage you to check your company's vacation policy or have a conversation with HR for clarity. U.S. workers are notorious for trying to save up their vacation days. But in some companies, vacation days cannot be rolled over to the next year and the time employees can take off could be limited.

When you request time off, be proactive. Let your manager know how you plan to take care of your responsibilities before you leave for vacation and, if applicable, who will cover any pressing tasks while you're out. At the end of the day, you both should be on the same page.

With a little planning and consideration, some R&R will be right around the corner. I hope relaxing days off are in your near future.



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