Returning to a former employer can be a very good thing for your career environment.
We recycle everything nowadays. Aluminum, plastic, cardboard, glass, batteries, computers — even eyeglasses.
Why not bosses?
Seriously, returning to a former place of employment can be a very good idea. Even corporations are becoming more open to this previously unheard-of practice, now so common it has a name — boomeranging. After all, you’re a known quantity. You’re already familiar with the company and its culture, and training/orientation should be minimal. You are, in fact, far less of a financial risk than starting fresh with a complete newbie.
The financial advantages of boomeranging can work both ways. Very often people who leave and later return are able to negotiate a higher salary and better benefits than if they had just stayed put and tried to move up through the ranks.
Another major advantage to you, the job seeker, is that you probably won’t need to pass through “normal channels.” You should be able to skip HR and go straight to the hiring manager. When you do, you’ll want to reaffirm your commitment to the company’s mission. Be clear on why you seek to return, and how the skills and experience you gained while away will benefit your old/new employer.
All this assumes, of course, that when you parted you did so on good terms. It would also be wise to think through why you left the old company in the first place, and ask yourself if those factors are still relevant. Above all, be sure you are not just going back because it feels easy and safe.
So do your homework. Double check that the things you liked about the employer still exist. Consider that a return may well put you in the position of employee with the least tenure (but do try to have your old seniority and benefits reinstated — many corporations will agree to this if you ask).
Finally, keep in mind that at least a few of your former co-workers may resent your mobility and freedom, especially if you’re returning to a markedly better position than the one you left. Indeed, some may have real difficulty seeing you in a new light. You will most likely need to prove yourself over again, and to rebuild old relationships.
It can be worth it though. Good luck!