Advice: "I left my job but I regret my decision. How can I get them to hire me back?"

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Dear Quota Team, 

A few months ago, I left a job I’d been working at for just under two years. The reason I left is because a colleague from a previous sales job had reached out to me and wanted me to come work with him at his new company. 

He talked the job up a lot, especially the pay and benefits, and made it seem like it was going to be a huge step up from where I was working, and talked about how much he loved it there etc. I was only mildly interested at first, but he was pretty persistent and said all the right things. In any case, I breezed through the interviews and got an offer from the new company after two rounds. 

After I put in my notice and joined this new company, I quickly figured out that it was different from the way it had been presented to me. The comp plan they showed me is a good plan, but only about three or four people out of forty are actually hitting their numbers, everyone else is struggling to get by. The base is comparable to what I had before, but unless I can somehow become one of the 10% who are hitting full bonus, I’ll probably make less than my previous role. 

Everything else is fine, but I’m definitely not blown away by the culture here either. It’s kind of a low-morale place, and people treat it as a nine-to-five, without much enthusiasm. 

My question is this: I’ve decided that I want to go back to my old job. I left on professional terms but I’m not sure if they’ll take me back. Do you have any advice for me? What’s the best way to reach out to an old employer and ask for my job back?

Unhappy in Florida 


Dear Unhappy, 

It sounds like you fell for the old grass is greener trap, which is not uncommon, especially in the high-turnover world of sales. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. 

As far as reaching out to your former employer to ask for your job back, we think the best way to go is to be honest. In this case, honesty will come with a bit of vulnerability: you made a mistake, you realize that it’s a mistake, and now you’re asking them to help you undo the mistake you made. It might take a few minutes of gritting your teeth, but you can handle it. 

Put together an email explaining the situation. Admit that you thought it would be a career opportunity for you, and that you made your decision based on that. Then, explain that in addition to the current role not being what you expected, the whole situation has made you realize how lucky you were in your previous role. Be honest and vulnerable, without sounding desperate.

In today’s tight labor market, companies are still fighting to hire good sales reps. Assuming your old company isn’t overstaffed (or petty), they’re likely to take you back, given that you can perform in the role from day 1, and don’t require thousands of dollars in training. But if they say no, there are still plenty of sales opportunities out there. So don’t fret. You made a mistake, but you’ve probably learned an even more valuable lesson.

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