I became a boomerang employee (and lived to tell the tale)

People leave jobs and companies for different reasons. When you leave your job — even on good terms — you’re hardly thinking about returning some day. When I left Metis Communications in 2014, I was thinking about my immediate future at a different job.

So, it came as a surprise when, more than a year later, I was working among familiar faces again and re-activating my company email. Below are a few things I learned in the “boomerang” process about my career and myself:

If you’re searching for your next gig, a previous employer could make a strong case.

Over the years, we’ve seen numerous executives boomerang back to their original roles: Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Apple’s Steve Jobs, and a Boston (and Metis) favorite, Boloco founder John Pepper. These people might have helped solidify a trend among founders and top execs, but the boomerang club is not an exclusive one.

A Workplace Trends study found that 15 percent of employees have returned to a former employer, and nearly 40 percent would consider it.

Don’t take this move lightly.

If you are considering a boomerang career move, pinpoint the reason you originally left the company. Were you dissatisfied in your specific role? Was there something about the company that left you wanting more? And, has the company changed in the time since you’ve been gone?

Take time to understand what you need to thrive in your career. What drives you? What motivates you? What do you need to stay happy? The answers to these questions are your non-negotiable needs. Whether you return to your previous company or start somewhere new, use them to gauge what you’ll require from your job and employer to be successful and happy.

If there is no overlap between why you left your previous company and what you’ve identified as non-negotiable aspects of a new job, then your next career move just might be back to where you started.

A step back to an employer can be a step forward for your career.

When a new marketing role opened up at Metis, I followed the above framework to determine if a boomerang move was right for me. I had left my job after several years at the agency to explore a new career direction. I was searching for a role that better aligned with my interests and strengths. It was difficult to leave the team, thecompany culture and the general atmosphere behind, and those aspects continued to be things I missed after I left.

With that experience behind me, I learned that to feel fulfilled in any role, I needed to work:

  • With a close-knit, passionate team that always challenges each other
  • In a collaborative environment
  • Alongside a manager that acts more like a mentor
  • Where career growth is encouraged
  • In a culture of responsibility, trust and autonomy

When I compared these requirements with the position I was now considering at Metis, it was clear that my head was following my heart. It was time for me to return and conquer a new role.

Should you boomerang?

Starting a new job is scary. It can be comforting to return to a place where you already have some experience and familiarity. Before you decide, ask yourself: Will you work with the same team or department as you did before you left? Is that a pro or a con?

There is also a risk that previous issues you had about the company may resurface, and you’ll consider leaving again. In this case, remember that the company is risking the same unknown future. On the pro side, companies prefer to hire someone who has proven to be competent in her skills and a fit with the team’s culture. Return employees are much easier to onboard. Plus, just like strong employee retention rates, a returning employee sends a positive signal to current employees.

So, to know if a boomerang move is right for you, spend time assessing your pros, cons and personal career goals. Talk to old colleagues and managers.

Ultimately, you want to do your best work.

Everyone thrives best in different environments, and you know your motivators better than anyone else. Think about what you need in order to be the best version of yourself.

And remember, time changes situations and people. What wasn’t right then could be perfect for you now.

This story originally appeared on the Metis Communications blog.

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