Boomerang Employees: An Untapped Talent Source?

Former employees already know your business and can produce results from the get-go.

Everything old is new again. Retro fashions have come back and are in style. Old rock bands are reuniting (again) for a tour. And companies are rehiring old employees. Yes, the phenomenon of boomerang employees is real and more common than ever. According to a recent survey, 76 percent of HR professionals said they are more willing to hire a boomerang employee now than in the past.

Those hiring managers could be on to something. Can you imagine if Apple hadn’t welcomed Steve Jobs back after he left? Rehiring might seem risky, but it can have many benefits as well. Hey, there’s a reason why those classic rock bands, and acts like New Kids on the Block, keep selling out reunion tours. People like familiarity and they appreciate a peer who has something familiar and reliable to bring to the corporate stage.

In the same way, boomerang employees could very well prove to be even better for you in their second-act performance than they were the first time around. Here’s why:

They already know your business.

You don’t have to worry about whether candidates will fit in with the office culture or if they’ll understand the structure of the organization — they’ve already been there and done all of that. A rehire basically eliminates the need for a complicated onboarding process. Both HR professionals (33 percent) and managers (38 percent) said in a Workplace Trends survey that familiarity with the organization’s culture is the biggest benefit to hiring back former employees.

They get right to work.

With new hires, there is often a steep learning curve for all involved to nail down what this person’s primary job function will be. With boomerang employees, you’re leaving little to chance because they can jump right in and begin producing results, which cuts down on the lag time that can accompany a brand-new hire.

You save time and money on recruitment.

By reaching out to your network of past employees directly, you’ll reduce some of the money — up to $20,000 for some companies — and time normally needed for other more widespread recruitment solutions. For starters, you won’t be caught in the hamster wheel of discovering that someone is not the right fit and having to start over. There’s also the added psychological benefit of your current workforce seeing employees return, which may be an indication that this is the best place to be.

You remove the element of surprise.

The recruitment and hiring process is often a gamble because you’re relying on the impression you get from a few quick meetings and the person’s ability to craft a solid resume. If job-seekers can also string together a couple of good references, hiring often comes down to a gut decision. With a boomerang employee, however, there is no guesswork as to what type of a coworker this person will be and whether he or she will fit into the culture of the company. In fact, 56 percent of HR professionals and 51 percent of hiring managers said in that Workplace Trends survey that they give high or very high priority to former employees who left in good standing.

They’re better than ever.

Assuming former staffers left on good terms for similar positions, the time they’ve spent away will likely have equipped them with additional skill sets and viewpoints that can now be shared with the team. Think of it as if they left to pursue professional development or continuing education and have now returned with newfound knowledge. Talk about a win-win situation.

The next time you embark on a search for new talent, then, don’t forget to reach out to the old talent, too. Some of those former employees may be thrilled to hear from you and will gladly boomerang right back to familiar territory.

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