Feeling Nostalgic? How to Become a Boomerang Employee


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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12 Most Nostalgic Reasons to Attend Your High School Reunion

12 Most Nostalgic Reasons to Attend Your High School Reunion

“High school reunion.”

When those three words pop up on your computer or arrive via postcard, your reaction will be one of two things: Sign me up! or No way in Hell!

Having just returned from my own reunion, I want to nudge you toward the former. I had a fabulous time and would have regretted this once-every-ten-year gathering of my big public high school had I not bought my ticket.  

Here are the 12 Most Nostalgic Reasons to Attend Your High School Reunion:

1. Prom redux

Perhaps you remember your prom as a night of Cinderella-like splendor. No? Me neither. Looking back at yellowed photos, mine seemed more about blue eye shadow matching powder blue tuxedos. A reunion is a perfect time for a do-over. Splurge on an outfit you feel great in. Schedule a blow out and drop by the makeup bar. We’ve paid for our daughters to go all out for their proms, why not indulge ourselves?

 2. Music and dance

While fashion and make-up from another decade look dated, by definition, the music we loved in high school is locked in our brains as the best party tunes, ever. Grab your girlfriends and abandon self-consciousness. So what if your kids tell you your dancing is atrocious? They were not invited.

3. Release your inner 18-year-old

We are required to behave like responsible adults every single day. At work and as parents, we suck it up and play the role of adult. But, for one night, when neither boss nor kid will be there to demand your attention, channel a youthful vibe.  

 4. No strangers

Over the past decade, adults have flocked to Facebook. You can walk into a room of people you have not seen in person since you walked across the stage with your diploma and immediately jump into a conversation about their golf game or their child’s graduation. You may already know a tiny bit more than you want to about the guy who wore the pocket protector in his shirt but, feel free to ask him about the traffic in Austin or his company’s IPO.

 5. Network

You will find yourself in conversation with a classmate who has just returned from a Napa wine tour, which you have always wanted to do, and he will immediately text you the name of a charming hotel and his favorite vineyard. I discovered a classmate whose daughter is a sophomore at the college where mine will be a freshman. The six degrees of separation shrinks down to about three when you are in a room where everyone is the same age.

 6. Mysteries revealed

We may have all sat through classes at the same high school but how we lived our teenage years were infinitely diverse. I loved hearing stories from my classmates about shared experiences. They filled in some gaps and solved a few long-forgotten mysteries. Now I know who wrote that letter, who had a crush on whom…

 7. People don’t change

The yearbook photos served as our name tags. Sure, glasses now sit on noses, hair has turned grey (funny, mainly the guys), we have picked up a few pounds — but the smiles endure.  The eyes are the same. The sense of humor of the wise guy who drove your 10th grade US History teacher crazy, yes, that is still there, too.

 8. People do change

A big reason why people don’t return for their reunions is that they hated being in high school and why return to the scene of four years of misery? By now we know that teenagers all feel like losers and outsiders at some point in their young lives. Also, by now, you have long since shed your teenage self-doubt.   

9. See how the narrative played out

When we graduated from high school, some of us had definite career goals, others were madly in love. Years later, here is a chance to see if those high school romances blossomed into marriage (some did and, remarkably, the couples are still married). Did the more mature kids who already knew they wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer stick with it?

 10. Prepare to be surprised

While waiting in line for a glass of so-so red wine, you will find yourself in conversation with someone you knew, somewhat, during high school. That conversation will last for the entire drink because her story is fascinating and you would have never predicted she would live where she does and create the business she has.

11. The one who broke your heart

There was that one girl, who dumped you, or ignored you, despite the fervent crush you had on her all junior year! Maybe she will show up, too. Go ahead and give into your curiosity, peruse the list of attendees and seek her out.

12. Friends

This is, of course, the real reason you NEED to attend your reunion. If you are in touch with high school buddies, great, this will be a fun night with them. But friendships were more than your best friends. They were the kids you were on yearbook staff with, ones you were in elementary school with but drifted away from in middle school. Maybe you have no connection whatsoever with your high school and you have moved far away. There will be people who will remind you why you liked them so much when you were 16. You will still like them. There may be no better way to rediscover a friendship than at a high school reunion. This is the true party favor.

Photo credit: Big Stock Photos

Mary Dell Harrington


Mary Dell Harrington is one of the voices behind Grown and Flown: Parenting from the Empty Nest. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, she has her MBA from Harvard Business School and made her career in the media working for NBC and Lifetime. You can find Mary Dell on the Grown and Flown blog or on twitter and Facebook.

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