Returning to a previous employer?

Hi all,

Just hoping to bounce my current career dilemma across a few ears, thanks in advance for reading :¬)

I started my career in an rail-focussed engineering consultancy (Company A), as one of three industrial designers. I stayed for over three years and enjoyed my entire duration there, but left to join a product design consultancy (Company B) because I wanted to work on a wider breadth of projects. I’ve been at Company B for a year and two months now and I’m considering going back to Company A because Company B is not run very well, and there doesn’t seem to be much room for progression or pay rises.

My dilemma is that I enjoy the work I’m doing, and it’s all adding to my knowledge and experience, but I have to work incredibly hard and very long hours leaving me little time to enjoy life outside of work. I don’t want to jeopardise my career as a ‘product’ designer by returning to Company A, nor do I want to pigeon-hole myself into transport (specifically rail) interior design, but as an employer, Company A has far more and better benefits. I’m trying to keep this post brief and aware that I’m failing, so a bulletpoint list of the pros and cons of each company are below.

Company A

Higher salary
Potential to go back in a higher-level role
Pension scheme
Get on with colleagues and directors
Knowledge of the company and it’s workings
Better & more flexible working hours
Paid overtime

Lack of variety
Steering myself into a niche – less transferrable skills
Longer commute

Company B

Enjoyable work
Variety of projects
Get on with colleagues
Short commute
Closer to what I want to do

Lower salary
No room for progression
No pension scheme
Lack of faith in director’s managerial ‘skills’
Long hours
No paid overtime

My plan is to contact Company A, who have given me an unconditional offer to return, and see where I stand with them (i.e. what would the role and salary be), then discuss my options with my manager at Company B.

TL;DR: Should I choose to make more money and be looked after as an employee, or stick it out and follow what I enjoy with the hope of finding a better company in years to come? Has anyone been in a similar situation, and if so what did you decide to do?

Questions welcome!


Option C? Another opportunity elsewhere with the variety of B but the benefits of A? There is a lot of choice out there. You decide your own career path.


I’m a fan of option C as well. Why go back? Why not go forward?

“My life only has one direction, and that is forward” Don Draper… of course he did have to go backwards a bit last season…

Always option C.

The second rule being, of course “What’s in front of me, I pass”