Should I return to a prior employer?

Dear Joan: 
I quit my previous company about 10 months ago, hoping for a better future in a different field, as the job I was in was something which didn’t make me feel secure-- considering I have another 30-40 years of work life left in me. And also my company was taken over by another company, who had very different work policies. Everyone, right from the CEO to the lowest levels, were dissatisfied and let down and about 90 percent of the old timers (including the CEO and all the top management) quit the company within a matter of six months.
I had a lot of ambitions about my own career and decided to take up some courses which would give me more job satisfaction and job security.
After consulting a few counselors, I took up courses which they advised me to do. However soon after, I realized that, unless one has work experience and degrees in the concerned field, it is quite impossible for anyone to get a job based on the certifications I did.
I have been looking for a job since ten months now, and I am even willing to do what I did in my previous company, but I haven’t been able to find jobs which would be anywhere near that.
My previous company has now advertised for the same role that I was in, and I am not sure if I should try for this position again. I spoke to the HR person, and was told that I will have to go for the same salary that I took before, provided I clear all the rounds of interviews, like any fresher. 
I am not sure what I should do, since the very reason I quit the company was because I had a dream of moving forward in life. And I had spoken about it with a lot of people in the company, too. Now I actually feel embarrassed to go back and tell them that I failed in realizing my dreams. And the policies that irritated me then are still the same, of course.
At the same time, I have a huge gap in my career since I quit, and any new company I go to will ask a lot of questions about it, and also the salary may not be as good either. I am not sure if I will even be happy stepping back into the company again either. What do I do? 
Look forward to your help.
If it was bad enough to force you out the first time, it won’t be any better the second time; in fact, it will be worse. Since you told people you were leaving to pursue another career choice, they will be skeptical about your return. They will think you will leave again if you find something that suits you better, and that you are only returning out of desperation. For these reasons, you may not make it past the screening interviews, even if you wanted to return.
I don’t think you “failed” in realizing your dreams…you’ve just had a setback. Rather than give up after one attempt, why not learn from the lessons this has given you? Very early in my career, I remember taking one day off to devote to finding a new career direction. ONE DAY. Needless to say, my na├»ve efforts got me nothing but teary and frustrated. Many years later, I look back at my career and know that it was built a day at a time, with a few goals in mind. Don’t give up—just find a more practical path.
One of the lessons you learned is to do more research, before you invest money on a certification or degree. Talk to people who actually do the jobs you’re interested in, to learn what qualifications and experience are needed. Don’t let someone tell you, “This is a good career” or “This field has lots of jobs.” It doesn’t matter if those jobs don’t suit your skills and interests. Spend time talking to people to find out what they do in their careers, share your interests with them and ask their advice. Ask them what kinds of volunteer activities you can do to build your experience. Seek out paid or unpaid internships. These are great sources of referrals and even job offers.
Look for entry level job experiences in the fields you are interested in, then as you get a degree or other credentials, you will be in the right place with some work experience behind you. For example, I know someone who got a receptionist position in an accounting firm (which was a cut in pay from her last job) and took classes in the evening for her degree. She asked for and got some actual accounting-related projects while she was a receptionist and eventually moved into a bigger role when she got her degree.
Another lesson is to lay pipe for the new career, while working in your current job. While it is more difficult to balance your time, it will make you appear more employable, if you are already employed. It will also give you the luxury of choosing the right opportunity, without pressure to take the first thing that comes along.
Don’t let yourself become paralyzed by your job gap. Yes, you will be asked about it but rehearse a solid, positive answer. For example, “I had a successful track record in my previous company. But when new management took over, the CEO, senior leaders, and 90 percent of the employees left because of the changes they made to the corporate culture. I decided to leave as well, to pursue additional training on my own. Now I’m ready to apply my skills to a new organization.”
If you are positive and upbeat, that is half the battle. Employers want enthusiastic, goal-oriented employees. If you are fatalistic or down on yourself, that will come through. Career mistakes can make you stronger if you learn from them. You have many years left to define your career—and plenty of time to get back on track.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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