What to do if you got laid off, and now the company wants you back


By Mita Mallick

November 15, 2022

As 2022 comes close to an close, many organizations are laying off workers. According to a recent KPMG survey, more than half of U.S. CEOs are considering layoffs and restructuring in anticipation of a 2023 recession. In recent weeks, media headlines have been filled with a wave of layoffs. Barclays, Citigroup, Meta, Redfin, Salesforce, and Stripe are just a few of the organizations who have cut jobs. 

Twitter has also recently laid off workers but it is how new owner Elon Musk led the layoffs that has caught the most attention. About 3,700 Twitter employees were let go this month. Some were told over email, while others learned they were no longer employed because they couldn’t access their Twitter Slack or email accounts. Soon after, many Twitter employees were asked to come back after they had been let go. Now, a number of employees must return to a workplace that previously fired them. 

It has recently become more common for workers to “boomerang” back to their old employers. Given the breadth of organizations laying off workers, Twitter may not be the last company to ask fired workers to return. And in this difficult economic climate, some workers may have no other choice but accept, and return to an organization that once told them to pack their desks. 

So the question is this: how do you return to a workplace you’ve been laid off from? Here are three things to keep top of mind if you choose to return to a former employer:

Set new goals

It can be tempting to return to a former employer and act like nothing has changed. But if the organization was forced to restructure, it’s very likely that the company you once remember working for has evolved. Because of this, it will serve you best to act like you are starting a new job with a new employer. 

Of course, this can be challenging. But if possible, try to create some excitement around this new opportunity. That could mean refreshing items in your wardrobe or going out to a celebratory meal with family and friends. Or even starting to think about the first vacation you might take once you have settled into your role.

Try to focus on the key things you would do in the first 90 days of a new job. Pay attention to your team, your surroundings, and people you are working with. Listen and learn from others, and understand what success will look like in this role for you. 

Consider starting new routines to help shift your mindset, including trying different patterns for coffee and lunch breaks or reaching out to coworkers you never spent much time with before. Try sitting in a different place in the office or changing up your home office set-up to help reset and reframe joining your former employer. 

This reframing can help you protect your mental health and give yourself a fresh start. 

What to do if you got laid off, and now the company wants you back

Don’t hold onto grudges

Surviving a layoff is never easy. I have experienced two layoffs in my career, and each time I grieved the loss of my job, and my identity which was wrapped up in my title and the organization.

After one layoff, I remember feeling so angry at my boss and at the leaders and at the company. I kept wondering why I was let go while others stayed on, rewinding that last conversation with HR in my head. I let the grudge take over and it caused me unnecessary stress and anxiety. And I’m not alone. According to a recent study, those who hold onto grudges, are more likely to have prolonged negative moods and to experience depression and anxiety.

As you join your former employer, don’t hold onto grudges. Holding onto grudges can be the biggest impediment to your happiness and to your future success because it makes it harder to move forward and accomplish new goals. 

While it may be difficult, I highly recommend trying to forgive those who you may hold a grudge against. I have done this in my own career by writing letters to individuals who caused me pain and not sending them. It’s a way for me to process, forgive, and move forward with my life. 

Another way to let go of grudges is to replace them with new, happier experiences. Write down one positive thing you appreciate or notice about your organization every single day for the first 90 days. Be open to the new possibilities. Remember, you don’t want to bring bitterness or anger into this new opportunity.

Lean on existing relationships

One of the big advantages of rejoining your former employer is that you likely will know some of your colleagues already. These existing relationships can help you drive impact in your new role. When trying to drive impact at work, we often can forget to ask ourselves: Who can help me accomplish this task or help drive this initiative forward? When you know some of the key players already, this will help you gain some immediate momentum at work. 

It can be awkward returning to an old workplace and it can be easy to feel insecure around your coworkers. But remember that colleagues who enjoy working with you will be happy to see your familiar face again. 

Ask yourself: Who do I already know? And how can I rebuild and grow that relationship? Who is completely new to the organization? And who could I turn to for mentorship?

Developing relationships with colleagues will be key to creating an entirely new work experience. If you can shift your mindset, let go of grudges, and reinvest in existing relationships, returning to a workplace that you’ve been laid off could just be one of the best career decisions you make in 2022. 

Mita Mallick is a diversity and inclusion leader. Currently, she is the head of inclusion, equity, and impact at Carta.

Fast Company