Feeling Nostalgic? How to Become a Boomerang Employee

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iStock_000017065719_Small-622x229Not burning a bridge is taking on new meaning in the current job market as many companies are welcoming back former employees with open arms.

With skill shortages and talent wars breaking out in many industries, companies are forced to overhaul their thinking.

Consider this: a new survey of 1,800 human resources professionals by WorkplaceTrends.com and Kronos found that while close to half of respondents said they had a policy against rehiring former employees, 76% say they are more accepting of hiring boomerang employees today. Managers are on the same page, with close to two-thirds saying they would be more willing to bring back former colleagues. “There’s a new perspective,” among hiring managers, says Dan Schawbel, founder of WorkplaceTrends.com. “Companies realize that when hiring boomerang employees they get up to speed quicker.”

While that’s good news for people wanting to get their old job back, it means increased competition for job seekers, even as the employment market continues to improve. According to the survey in the past five years, 81% of HR professionals said they received job applications from ex-employees. Of those, 40% said their company hired half of the former employees who applied. What’s more, greater than half of HR professionals and managers said they give high or very high priority to former employees that left professionally and amicably. For job seekers, their boomerang competition is going to come largely from millennials, based on WorkplaceTrends.com and Kronos’ survey, which found that 46% of millennials would consider going back to a former employer. That compares to 33% of Generation Xers and 29% of baby boomers.

Increased competition when searching for a job is never good, but for those who are currently employed, this shift in thinking bodes well for their future employability. “Going back a few years, employers looked at the workforce in a broad way as opposed to person by person,” says Kronos Chief People Officer, Dave Almeda. “A growing understanding of individuals skills, talents and contribution in tough times,” is driving this. When times are good and companies are in hiring mode, they may not notice the slacker employee or the over achiever. But if a company is forced to do more with less, it will quickly see who is valuable to an organization and who isn’t.

For employees who shine within an organization, the change in mindset means if they leave and want to come back it won’t be so hard. “High performing employees are going to be in good shape to approach the company when they to go back,” says Almeda. But for those that may have been less than productive or disruptive, the chances of getting hired back are going to be slim. Because of that, employees have to make sure they are behaving on the job and not burning a bridge by fighting with co-workers or supervisors, not meeting requirements and jumping ship in too short of a period of time.

Having options when someone is looking for new employment is an enviable position to be in but in order to get there, employees have to make sure they are keeping in touch with their former colleagues and bosses. Thanks to the proliferation of social networks, both personal and professional, anyone who left a job in good standing will want to make sure they keep in touch. Making connections with ex-workers on LinkedIn and staying on top of what the company is up to will go a long way in helping if someone does decide to go back. After all a lot of the people who get hired come from referrals and if it’s from a current employee about a former one that’s even stronger.

Ultimately how someone conducts themselves on the job will mean the difference between getting hired back and getting a rejection letter in the mail. Since millennials are the most likely to job hop and come back, making an impact before moving on to greener pastures is important for boomeranging. “Boomerang employment is not an entitlement,” says Almeda. “There is a minimum set of requirements that the employees need to meet. You have to have the right relationship with the company. It can’t be a short stop over.”


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