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Should You Hire a 'Boomerang' Employee?

Nicole Fallon

When an employee resigns, most bosses would assume that they won't see or hear much from that person again, even if they're still on friendly professional terms. So most of them might be surprised to find that someone who voluntarily left their company is coming back for that new job opening.

While some professionals would never dream of returning to work for a former employer, it's actually becoming more common: Research indicates that workers are open to reapplying for a position at a company they once worked for, and the majority of employers would welcome them back with open arms. But is hiring a "boomerang" employee the right choice for your team?

Regardless of how either party felt upon the employee's resignation, there are a few clear advantages to rehiring someone who used to work for you. Amber Hyatt, a certified senior professional in human resources (SPHR) and director of product marketing for HR software company SilkRoad, noted that the boomerang employee will already have some important pre-existing knowledge about your company. [See Related Story: Common Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them]

"Hiring former employees means familiarity with your business — the mission, culture, values, players, training and organizational structure are already in place," Hyatt told Business News Daily. "This familiarity lends itself to an expedited time to productivity, greatly benefiting the organization."

"Since less time would need to be spent training on those areas, more focus can be put toward training for the new role, objectives and goals," added Judson Van Allen, director of recruiting at Computer Task Group.

Boomerang employees can also boost morale among your existing staff members, said Samantha Lambert, director of human resources at Blue Fountain Media.

"These employees can attest to the improvements in processes, quality of work and management from when they first worked here," Lambert said.

Hyatt agreed, noting that a returning staff member may also perform better than when he or she originally worked for you, since the person likely picked up new experiences, skills and perspectives during his or her time away.

Hiring a boomerang employee

On the other hand, this person shouldn't automatically get the job just because he or she worked for you before. Like any other candidate, boomerang employees need to go through the interview and onboarding process to make sure they're the right fit for the job.

"Do not shortchange the interview process simply because the candidate is a known quantity," Van Allen said. "The candidate should go through the same process as all other candidates. Also, be sure to validate with HR that the candidate is eligible for rehire."

You'll also want to think about the circumstances under which the employee left, to ensure that he or she is going to stay and grow within the organization this time around, Hyatt said.

"There are many reasons why people leave, including family responsibilities or relocation, or the desire to experience new challenges and grow new skills," Hyatt said. "Several questions should be considered when evaluating a boomerang to ensure organizations are learning from past experiences: What was their performance like before they left? How did they exit the organization? Most importantly, why did they leave the organization? Is this still a potential concern?"

If you do ultimately decide to hire a boomerang candidate, Lambert advised employers to point out any major changes in policy and process that have been put in place since he or she last worked at the company.

Hyatt added that you should also leverage the returning employee's prior experience with the company as he or she adjusts to the new role.

"Especially in cases of a high performer, the organization has a tremendous opportunity to immediately build confidence in [that person's] abilities with the new team, including how he or she has embraced the organizational culture and been a brand ambassador," Hyatt said. "A boomerang returning provides a real-life example to current employees that 'the grass isn't always greener' elsewhere."

Image Credit: hitch3r/Shutterstock
Nicole Fallon Member
Nicole received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. Nicole served as the site's managing editor until January 2018, and briefly ran's copy and production team. Follow her on Twitter.