Remember how your parents used to tell you that your bad grades and deeds in high school would follow you forever and then you found out they were wrong on most of that? Well it is a bit different in the work world.
Lots of people that are laid off from positions at good companies hope to rejoin the company in the future as the economy picks up and more openings appear. But it's very important to remember: if you were laid off from a position, there was a reason why. It could just be that you were one of several X's in your division and the company demanded that managers cut 55% of the X's in the group. Or, it could be that your performance, while acceptable, wasn't stellar.
Before you reapply at your old company, think about your last 1-2 performance reviews. Just because legally you are eligible for rehire doesn't mean that you will *be* rehired. Do recruiters and hiring managers check your past performance with the company? You bet your sweet button they do.
There are a several large organizations in the Seattle area that are desirable employers; many of them have downsized over the years here or there. And although oftn prior work experience is desirable, if a candidate had a lackluster or poor performance history, not all the amazing projects they worked on since, will change an employer from being risk averse to a known (documented) quantity to being willing to have to justify to senior management the decision to hire a "known" poor performer.
In addition to your documented performance history, there is also your reputation, based upon your actions and treatment of former co-workers, many of whom may have stayed with (or kept in contact with) the company. "Blackballing" can be based on badmouthing and politicking, and unfortunately is difficult to prove. I was recently having this conversation with a former coworker, who had found out that someone she had worked with was bad-mouthing her.
The first situation is pretty much impossible to overcome. You just have to deal with it and move on. In the second situation, you may be able to do some damage control if you still have friends and colleagues willing to vouch for you and that may be aware of your work and the person bearing the grudge, and why they may be speaking out against you. (Jealousy, feels threatened, personal issues spilling over into work? I know folks that fall into all these categories.)
Be realistic, and realize that just because you *want* to go back, you may not be welcome. If you do really feel that you are the right fit for the company, then work your hardest to become a recognized expert in your field so that they will come courting *you*.
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