“New job didn’t work out”
About eight months ago I left a company that I helped start to take another position. This was a difficult decision because I felt attached to the people and every fiber of the organization. Now the old company has asked me to come back because the place is barely surviving. This new job has not been as interesting as the start-up, but I wonder if I would be making the mistake of my career going back. I don’t want to look like a quitter but my heart isn’t in this new job. I need help sorting this out.
Let’s make sure you’re not thinking about going back because the new job hasn’t been all it was cracked up to be. If there’s one career mistake I see most often it’s when people base a decision on what they want to get away from. Looking at what you’ve told me, it sounds like you might be doing that. Why did you leave the first company? What was it you wanted to be different? Will that have changed?
Plenty of people go back to former jobs simply for the love of the job or the company. Look at Steve Jobs who took over Apple again in 1997, Paul Allaire of Xerox, or David Johnson of Campbell Soup. They say they didn’t go back for the money, in an article by Suzanne Koudsi in Fortune. (Jobs took $1 for his first two years salary.)
They usually returned out of obligation, to save their legacy or a desire for power, says the article. The executives said they felt a commitment to their employees and shareholders, one saying he might regret it the rest of his life if he didn’t do what he felt obligated to do.
It sounds as if you, too, feel some obligation to save something you had a big hand in starting. The question is whether that’s possible and what it’s going to take. Also, how will this step affect your career path and where you were headed?
So, to sort out your thinking, answer these questions:
Why am I really considering this? Am I doing it for the right reasons?
What are the odds of my success in turning around this situation?
Will this move build on my reputation and put me in a stronger position, career-wise?
Remember that your options aren’t either this job or the old one. Neither may be right. Consider launching a search for a new place that could be the next right step in your career.