Re-connecting with a Former Associate to Return to Old Employer

Pamela writes:
A colleague my husband used to work with recently returned to head up
a company here. At one time the two worked together and were friendly
socially. Approximately 12 years ago my husband was hired away by
another company and this man attempted to persuade him to stay where
he was. After some negotiations on both sides my husband decided to take
the new position.
A lot of time has passed and my husband would very much like to make a
move back. There would seem to be a need for someone at the company
where this man works.
Is there any way that you know of that he could let his intentions be known
without threat to his current job if this man should turn him down?

The Career Doctor responds:
Anything is possible but 12 years is a long time to go without any kind of
contact. So folks when I tell you why it’s important to keep in contact with
people in your network here’s an example of why — time and time again I hear
stories from job-seekers who think they will never run into someone again
only to find themselves needing that person’s help in a future employment situation.
In your husband’s case the key question is how the two men ended the
relationship after your husband spurned his overtures and left the company.
The good news may be that if there were negative feelings — that after 12 years
they may have melted away. It may also help that they are now both with different
companies. On the other hand some people take these things very personally
and may still hold a grudge after all these years.
The best way for your husband to test the waters is to either arrange to
conveniently “run into” the former colleague at some professional or social function
or simply call and ask him out to lunch to “catch up.”
After the initial small-talk passes your husband could move the talk slowly to the
status of the company and whether there was any need for someone like him. If the
colleague shuts down on your husband at any time there is nothing lost — and since
he did not ask for a job there should be minimal concerns about it getting back to
his current employer.
Finally though are there not other companies and other opportunities your
husband could pursue?
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