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Ask HR: What to Do When You Have Second Thoughts About a New Job

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 left my previous job five months ago for a position that pays more. Outside of the money, this new experience has not been what I had hoped for. I feel like I'm starting all over again in terms of experience, connections and esteem. I'd honestly take a pay cut to have my old job or even something similar. Though I left on good terms, I worry about how I would be received by my former boss. What's the best approach for reaching out to my former employer about returning to work for them? —Kahlil

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: You certainly aren't alone. We've seen many people spontaneously transition to new jobs in the wake of the pandemic. Understandably, many of them have suffered from buyer's remorse. It's common for employees to want to return to their former company. There's even a name for them: boomerang employees.

The number of employees who return after leaving a company is on the rise. According to LinkedIn, boomerang employees accounted for 4.5 percent of all new hires among companies in 2021, up from 3.9 percent in 2019. Some organizations even encourage people who have left on good terms to consider returning to the company, especially in this tough labor market.

Having had such a positive experience at your previous company reflects well on your former boss. The best approach is to be candid with your former employer and explain why you are interested in returning to work for them. Explain your circumstances and what you value about working there. Share any additional skills, expertise or credentials gained since your departure. Remember, your familiarity with the company's product or service, as well as its operation, culture and mission, is an advantage for you. 

Make it make sense. Your former manager may be concerned about you jumping ship again, so be clear about how the organization aligns with your intentions and future goals.

If you left on good terms, there's no reason not to reach out to express your interest in returning.  Even if your old job has been filled, your former employer may still welcome you back in a different role or consider you for any future openings.

This can be a win for both of you!

I'd like to relocate to another country. What should I consider as a candidate embarking on an international career search? What's the best way to get information on international organizations and cultures? —Audrey

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: Working abroad offers an exciting opportunity to enrich your career path. You should do your due diligence to discover the best opportunity for you. There are several elements to consider when contemplating whether to relocate to and work in another country. Primarily, you must decide where you want to go, what you want to do and what it will take to get there. Gathering information on international organizations and cultures requires research and networking.

Seek out recruitment sites for international careers where you can learn about the organizations and then research specific countries. Not every country is abounding with job opportunities or with life experience comparable to what you may have become accustomed to. Or, a vastly different life experience may be exactly what you are looking for. Either way, researching what you want to experience and what you may be willing to sacrifice to live in certain places will be critical. 

Research the different cultures and languages and, if feasible, visit those areas. You may even be able to lean into your previous cultural or language exposure. It may be time to dust off your college French or your middle-school Spanish. Depending on your proficiency, your foreign language skills may come in handy.

The people you know could be a valuable resource in your search. Just like job hunting in the States, let your network know you are willing and available for work in your intended fields and countries. Contact your alumni associations, present or former employers, friends, family members, mentors, coaches and any networking organizations to which you may be connected. Your network can offer insights to help refine your options. They can also help you collect information on international organizations and cultures. Some may even offer a direct connection to a prospective employer.

Global organizations might be the most accessible bridge to working abroad. Some U.S. companies have offices around the world, so it may be easier to start with U.S.-based global companies first or global companies with a significant U.S. presence.

After selecting a position and location, you should prepare for the next steps. Tailor your cover letter and resume to the culture and language of your targeted locations. Understand the visa process of where you want to work. Visit the U.S. Department of State's website for more information about how to obtain a temporary work visa for the country in which you want to work.

No matter where your career journey takes you, I hope the experience is enriching and fulfilling.