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Best way to boomerang back to an old job

What do LeBron James and Steve Jobs have in common? They both returned to companies they had worked for previously. (And yes, a sports team is a company and it is job.) Steve Jobs did so with great success. How LeBron James does remains to be seen.

Many of us have jobs that we left for one reason or another. We found a new opportunity, went back to school or just plain got fed up with working there. Yet, years later, we want to return to the old company. Doing this isn't as straight forward as applying to a totally new company, but there can be some advantages to returning where you're a known quantity.

Tom Gimbel, president and CEO of LaSalle Network, a Chicago-based staffing firm, graciously gave me four tips to help you get your foot back in the door that you might have thought was closed.

1. Research the status of the position. Before anything, check if the position is even open. Most hiring managers will be impressed if a former employee has kept up with the company and recognizes that the spot is taken but asks to be an addition to the team, or work in another capacity. Know the situation before reaching out.

2. Get rid of the ego. Lose the ego and be okay with begging for the position back. There's an art to begging ... and there's a fine line between desperation and passion. Show commitment and willingness to do whatever it takes. As the saying goes, beggars can't be choosers, so be open to change, such as a new role within the company or joining a different team. Don't expect everything to be just as before.

3. Set expectations. The rehiring process will depend on how long it's been since parting ways. If it's been a few weeks to a couple of months and it ended on good terms, it may be as simple as phone call to a previous direct manager and a conversation with the executive team. If it's been over a year, in most cases it will entail running through the company's formal interview process again. The same preparation that went into landing the position originally should be applied ... and if anything, be more intense. Don't assume the position is guaranteed, and remember competition is fierce. There are not only external applicants, but internal staff, too. Don't assume leveraging previous relationships will help land the job. Research the company in case there have been any changes, bring resumes, come with good questions, be suited, be professional, etc.

4. Rebuild trust. If rejoining a team, reestablish relationships before the first day back in the office. Reach out to get coffees, or set up a phone call. By making an effort, the transition back won't be as awkward. At the end of the day, the goal is to earn management's trust back, and the first way to do that is by trusting them first.

Bottom line: If you're looking fora new job, your old company isn't off limits. Just keep these tips in mind and go ahead and apply.

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