I was just wondering the protocol in my situation. A couple of years ago I was expecting, I told my boss that most likely I would be quitting when my child was born. He said it was fine, he encouraged me to go ahead and get my maternity leave, and just "quit" when my maternity leave was over. He said it didn’t matter if I wanted to come back in three months, or three years, I could always come back.
Well, I called him a couple of days ago and left a message saying that I was interested in returning to work. He hasn’t called me back. What do I do now? I definitely don’t want to harass him. He was a great boss and I have a lot of respect for him. Please help.
by Bridget Oakes, Senior Search Consultant
Marie, great question!
First, keep in mind that your former boss is probably quite busy and simply hasn’t had the opportunity to return your call. But you should consider that there is a right way and a wrong way to approach the situation. Your boss may have told you “Three months or three years” but much can change in that time. (I assume you’ve taken the step of making sure he’s still with the company.)
Let’s look at a few scenarios to help you figure out the best approach:
If you’ve kept in close contact with your boss over the last couple of years while you were not employed, a simple “I’m ready to come back to work” might be a perfectly acceptable approach.
If you haven’t spoken to him since you left, calling him with the expectation of returning to your previous position may seem presumptuous, even rude.
If it has been more than six months since you last spoke with your former employer, I try this approach like:
“Hello Mr. Bossman (use his real name, of course), this is Marie (and your last name) calling. I know we haven’t spoken in some time, but I wanted to touch base with you because I’m exploring the possibility of returning to the workforce. I enjoyed working with you and I was hoping to discuss the possibility of retuning to work with your company.”
The beauty of this approach is that you leave his options open. “Your” old job likely belongs to someone else now, and unless he already wants to fire that person, it’s unlikely that you’ll be returning to the exact role you vacated. I would also resist the urge to remind him of the statement he made about “three months or three years;” people sometimes don’t mean exactly what they say.
If you are still struggling to get a response from him after using this last method, you may want to alter the purpose of your call, perhaps asking him to act as a reference. That might make it easier for him to give you a positive reply.
Bridget Oakes is a Senior Search Consultant with Partners in Technology. With nearly 10 years experience in executive search and recruiting, she is well equipped to provide advice and guidance to candidates searching for new careers, and welcomes the opportunity to do so through The Job Lounge.
Susan Ireland's Two Cents
Marie, please check out the following posts in The Job Lounge to learn about resources to help moms returning to the workforce.
Mom Re-Enters World of Employment
The Comeback Mom
Job Lounger, do you have a question? Email it to me and I’ll post your question and an expert’s answer here in The Job Lounge.