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Cover Letters To Previous Employers

There are many reasons why you may consider approaching a previous employer with a view to returning to familiar shores. Whether it's because your new role isn't quite living up to expectations, the lure of a coveted position which was previously out of reach suddenly becoming available, or simply because you miss your former colleagues. Whatever the reason, you'll need a carefully planned strategy to make sure your homecoming is a success.

Is it possible to go back?

Obviously, if you left under a cloud, then your options may not be as plentiful, but if you left to the sound of much back-patting and a "come back anytime" promise then you could be in business.

Research is always good. Test the water before making your final approach, a few discreet enquires to trusted former colleagues will tell you whether it is an appropriate time to return, and could help you prepare much better than going in blind.

Something else that you should think seriously about is whether you can commit to going back long-term. If you were successful, but then you have a serious bout of déjà vu in your second week – suddenly remembering why you left in the first place – leaving the firm again could spell the end of any good relationship you may have had up until that point, and the boss may not think as favourably about you if ask for a reference.

Making your approach

So, you have decided to venture back across the bridge. If you have only been gone a short time, you could just get back in touch with your ex-boss and let him or her know that you have made a mistake. Send an email though. A telephone call may put them on the spot, so give them space, and give them a chance to have a meeting to discuss the possibility.

If you have been away from the company for a while, do your homework. Is the boss the same person or someone new? A quick phone call to reception will confirm this.

Your CV

As you have been there before, they know what you did, how well you performed and why you left. There's therefore no need to get too creative about what you have already contributed. Although, if there is a change of manager, you should be prepared for the dreaded "reason for leaving" question in the interview.

As well as highlighting your best achievements, focus on what skills you have picked up since leaving and more importantly, how you are now an even better asset to the firm than you were before. Don't assume it is a foregone conclusion that you will be welcomed back – you will still need to prove yourself.

Your cover letter

This is where all your preparation comes together. If you don't prepare adequately and the boss has changed, at best, your email will bounce back to you, or spend the rest of eternity in cyberspace. At worst, the new manager will receive it, and your opportunity to make a good first impression is gone.

The content of the letter should be fairly formal, you can definitely direct their attention to your former tenure with the firm, but don't dwell on it. Rather like your CV, focus on how you are now an even greater asset to the firm.

Direct the reader's attention to your CV, but don't repeat content that is already mentioned there. You could pre-empt the "reason for leaving" question in your letter, but if you do, you should state clearly why you want to come back.

A final tip on the actual application: get someone to read it over for you, an objective view is often the thing you need to make sure that the overall flavour of your approach is likely to be well received.

Preparation checklist

Before you even put pen to paper you should check that you have done everything as follows.

A bit obvious, but check the company website, you are likely to either learn a few things, or have confirmed what you already know about the firm.

Open (if you haven't already) a LinkedIn account and reach out to some people who could give you some basic information about the changes that have occurred while you have been away.

If there are still a few gaps in your research after you have done this, you may have to pick up the phone to find out who you need to approach.

David Smith is a job search consultant at Careervisa.co.uk.

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I am applying for a position with a previous employer and would appreciate some advice on how to best present my resume and cover letter for this situation.

Here’s my back-story: I left this employer, a satellite campus for a private college, over a year ago. As a satellite campus and small office, there was no opportunity for advancement unless I wanted to become an academic advisor. I was not interested in the position and had been experiencing job-burnout for the last 2 years I was there (employed for a total of 3 ½). My only other option was to stay in my position until I could find something else with the main campus, however, I could not commit to a 30 minute commute at the time and I did not think my situation would change anytime in the future to allow for this to happen. So, I took a chance and resigned without having another job lined up and spent about 2 1/2 months looking for something more challenging and spent the rest of my time planning my wedding. The job I ended up taking is worse than the one I left as far as advancement opportunities and challenges. I still have friends that work with the college I quit and I left on good terms, but now I am thinking about returning to work for the main campus since I am able to handle the commute now and the college is a great place to work. The main campus has many more job opportunities. Lately, they have posting several positions that are of interest to me, but I draw a blank when I start to write my cover letter.

What would be the best way to handle my resume and cover letter? Should I mention why I left the satellite college campus or why I am looking to be employed with the college again? Is there anything I can say or do (or not say or do) to help in this situation?

Thank you for reading and I appreciate your feedback!

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