If you're searching for your next great career move then you may need to look no further than your previous employer! If you didn't burn your bridges when you left then there is no harm in contacting them to let them know you're searching for a new job and open to opportunities.
The reality is that the job market it tough right now and in most cases hundreds of applications are received for every vacancy, so you have got to try every avenue to get yourself hired. If that means getting in touch with old work colleagues or applying for advertised vacancies with an old company then that is what you should do.
There are considerable benefits to both you and your ex-employer in returning to a former job. For starters the employer won't have to spend their first 3 months of your employment worrying about their new starter settling in and getting to know the site. From your point of view you'll have insight into the running of the business, and probably be more comfortable and confident in front of the interviewers, even if you're going for a different role in a previous company.
Unless you left the former company for an inexcusable reason such as criminal behaviour or poor performance and your HR file states you should not be re-employed, then there is no reason why you wouldn't be seriously considered for the role.
Tips to get you back in your old, new job:
1. Make sure that you tick all the right boxes.
Yes you come with the advantage of being a known quantity to the employer, and re-employing you may offer reduced recruitment and training costs, but if you don't have the necessary qualifications you are unlikely to be offered the job. If you have trained during your time away and now have the necessary skills to do that job, then as with all applications, make it clear in your CV and cover letter.
2. Show your passion.
You have already been employed and left the business. If you're interested in returning to that company you must be able to clearly explain (even if it's just to yourself) why you left, and why you want to come back. No employer is going to take someone on who looks like they might leave within a few months.
3. Looking for a different role?
Make it clear to your ex-employer that you recognise the difficulties in moving from one position to another, especially if you are taking on more responsibility than in your previous role. Show that you have grown and that you are dedicated to working hard to overcome any transitional issues there may be as old colleagues will see you and react to you as they did in the past and it can be a challenge to change old habits.
4. How do you approach it?
It's always better to have an informal chat with an old colleague or boss to discuss whether there are any suitable vacancies than to simply submit an application without prior notice. If you no longer have their personal contact details then call them through LinkedIn or at work. You can always say that you rang to talk about references and this will let them know you're looking for a job. They may approach the subject of you returning there, or if they don't you can mention something at this point or ask them out to lunch. By making contact prior to an application you will stand a better chance of a positive outcome as you can also get inside information about how the company may have changed or what expectations there would be for the successful candidate once they are through the door.
5. Is it easier to get an old job back?
In some circumstances it may be more straight forward to reconnect with old acquaintances to see if there is a role which you might be suitable for, but you must still work hard to get you CV and application letter looking spotless. Then also make sure that you seriously prepare for your interview. There is nothing worse for a recruiter than having someone you know produce a poor outcome at interview.
6. It won't be like it used to be.
If you do get a job offer and accept it, remember that although many things may not have changed there are likely to be changes in systems, policies and staff, so be prepared to enter the business tentatively and take some time to adjust as you don't want to storm in there jumping on toes and making them regret your employment.
There is usually no reason why you shouldn't be able to approach your ex-boss and talk about the possibility of re-employment. Just take it slowly and don't make out that you are desperate to return, but make it clear that you are keen to know how the company is going and show an interest in what is going on. Good luck!