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Boomerang Employees: Just Another Trend?

boomerang employees: job seeker trend or vital career strategy?

Overview

Boomerang Employees: Just Another Trend?

Let’s talk about boomerang employees. Don’t feel like reading? Listen here!

Boomerang employees are as relevant for job seekers and professionals alike to explore as job-hopping. LinkedIn describes boomerang employees as “… those who leave their jobs and return later.”

The traditional workplace is under scrutiny, and being re-examined as old tenants are considered irrelevant. As the resignations have increased with the “Great Resignation” trend, the more hiring needs have also increased.

As a result, many companies are welcoming boomerang employees, and most view them positively. Companies were already hiring boomerang employees for several years and implementing rehiring policies. It appears professionals who leave an employer amicably create possible future employment opportunities.

What Goes Around, Comes Around

Costs to replace employees are increasing, and talent shortages are not limited to large businesses. With more resignations across the job market, small companies also have urgent hiring needs. 

Rehired employees return with a speedy onboarding process. They quickly re-engage established working relationships and save the company time and money — more so than those hired externally. 

Former employees and employers can collaborate through shared values and revive a productive relationship by accepting each other’s goals.

New workplace models must include hybrid, return-to-office, or remote-only options, and the boomerang employee is a large part of it. 

work professionals

Both parties will navigate the waters of collaboration. First, with what is best for the employer and then a shared understanding of employees’ career goals. Employees and employers can work together to scale each other’s interests.

Why Shouldn’t an Employer Hire a Boomerang Employee?

One of the traditional views of workplaces in the past is that an employee who leaves burns a bridge or leaves a sour taste in a former employer’s mouth. The perception was that employees would rarely get rehired by their company. 

The Old View of Returning Employees

An unsaid narrative in the past about boomerang employees portrays them as disloyal

Individual managers of the past took an employee leaving as a personal affront. Some managers would even say the employee accepted a lateral position and declare that they burned their bridges by leaving. 

This could be somewhat understandable if the employee went for a promotion above their manager. But, these statements are more negative reflections on the boss than the job or company climate. 

Unfortunately, a narrative like this doesn’t help the company, boss, or exiting employee. It can hinder a company from needing to hire boomerang employees who want to enhance their careers and demonstrated value.

Leaving the Door Open to Return

Some former employees disqualify themselves when trying to return to a company. They might air their grievances with a potential new manager at a former employer. The most successful boomerang employee demonstrates value, adaptability, and flexibility without negativity.

work place

There are times when a former employee may have legitimate concerns about their job. But, they need to be cautious about burning bridges through social media in this day and age. 

The power of how you talk about your past employer can jeopardize a future employer. A potential employer views negative behavior as breaching their values and conduct codes.

The New Boomerang Employee

The concept of boomerang employees is not a new one in workplaces, and the past stigma associated with it is changing — swiftly.

Boomerang employees add value when they return because they have advanced their skills through experiences with other companies. In addition, companies appreciate an employee they are familiar with. 

The New View on Rehiring

Companies are shedding their past practices as they compete to hire talent. Timing is everything and hiring reliable employees who understand the company culture is vital. Boomerang employees are a company’s pipeline if they are willing to embrace it.

Employees often leave a company to experience professional growth. It doesn’t mean they didn’t like the employer, the culture, or their coworkers. They may look to return at some point.

A Value-Added Employee

Returning employees can identify specific needs within a company, assess the impact of their contribution, and navigate the workforce landscape more quickly than a new hire. Surveys show they are quick starters and require less training than their counterparts.

Today’s boomerang employee also has more access to information about the company, relationships, and a hot job market. Using knowledge gained through connections, they increase their chances when positions are open. If they job-hopped, the experience is an upgrade.      

Is Returning to a Former Employer a Thing?

Given today’s market, every current job creates a future opportunity, an expanded network, and great information about the company. Even from our worst experiences, we learn what we like and don’t like in a job, knowing what to avoid in the future. It doesn’t mean there weren’t valuable relationships for later. 

job professional

Advantages of Returning

A boomerang employee has several advantages when networking for a new position at a former company:

  • Long-standing relationships with current employees and the ability to get referrals from them
  • Familiarity with the pay and benefits structure to leverage negotiations 
  • Experience working for competitors adds value as you’re familiar with their practices
  • Less stress knowing how to manage the workload and navigating the political culture

Potential Problems of Returning

There are snags for a boomerang employee to think about when being rehired, especially when former coworkers remain on the same team. Many coworkers won’t mind a productive teammate rejoining the group. However, some of those still on the team may begrudge your increased salary or bump in position. 

Many employees leave quietly without drawing attention to themselves, but coming back quietly is not always possible. Effective managers prepare the team in ways that show the rehired employee as a resource. There are times when teammates give referrals for the returning employee — which would be ideal for everyone involved. 

Returning to a former employer is a thing with boomerang employees reporting dissatisfaction with the moves they made. Getting a call from a recruiter interested in your talent is a commendation of your skills and a boost to your ego. But it may not always lead to a good fit at a new company. Although the Great Resignation was significant for millions making a job change, not everyone was satisfied with the first move. 

Will Being a Boomerang Employee Come Back to Haunt You?

Should you seriously consider returning to a former employer?

Often, those successful in returning have always treated their coworkers and company as if they might return in the future. They understand anything can happen —  leadership changes, company buyouts, or broken work relationships. They know they might need a soft place to land if a future job goes wrong. 

workplace

Successful returners understand there’s little value in burning bridges with coworkers, bosses, or bad-mouthing a company — you never know what the future may bring.

How to Return

If you’ve considered returning to an old employer, there are strategies to be successful:

  • Be clear about what you want out of the opportunity and plan your messaging. You don’t want to seem desperate to find a new job fast or nonchalant about your chances.
  • If you’re not currently engaging with current employees of your old company, now is the time to do so. The best-case scenario is six months to a year before you’ll act. If a layoff is imminent, it’s not a bad thing to start the conversation immediately. 
  • Good relationships with the hiring manager or decision-maker expedite the process. The better the connection, the greater your chances of being hired.
  • Demonstrate you can add value quickly and be flexible and adaptable.
  • Show enthusiasm and applied knowledge throughout the interview process. Listen for what has changed and remained the same. You may have outgrown your old position to the point of dissatisfaction.
  • Ask questions like you’re a brand new employee. Familiarity is leverage to get in the door, but you must impress them. 

We’re embarking on a time when we see the Great Resignation closing. More companies are enacting hiring freezes, similar to a recent announcement by Facebook (Meta).

During hiring freezes, employers view boomerang employees as a lower risk which hiring managers are willing to take.

work desk

Professionals ready to head back to a former employer should consider if they’ll receive value for their careers down the line. If there is one thing to do, invest time with former coworkers to remain at the top of their minds. 

Conclusion: Closing the Loop

Career-changers and other professionals will move according to their job marketplace value as reflected by industry trends. Although we’re seeing a shift with a few companies stifling hiring, it doesn’t mean it’s the same for all. 

Being a boomerang employee is not just a passing trend but a vital career strategy to craft a career move that’s right for you. 

Mark Dyson
Mark Dyson
Mark Anthony Dyson is a career writer, thinker, podcaster, and speaker in the careers and job search space. He has written for Glassdoor, Recruiter.com, Payscale, The Financial Diet, The Balance Careers, and more.

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