By Alan Collins
Ever thought about going back to work for one of your previous employers?
You might want to consider it.
Why? Because you might find your HR skills in HUGE demand... and because one of today’s hottest employment trend is the aggressively rehiring former employees.
These types of employees are known as “boomerangs.” And this trend is called “boomeranging.”
A side note: Ever notice how we in HR are quick to put a new label on an old practice. I always called this new boomerang thing “rehiring.”
But I digress.
According to an extensive study by Workplace Trends, 76 percent of all major employers have recently changed their policy on boomeranging – and are more favorably considering rehiring those who used to work in their organizations.
The reasons are simple.
• Many organizations are suffering.
• Intense global competition.
• “Brain drains” as their top talent run for the exits for better opportunities.
• Senior talent losses as baby boomers leave the workforce entirely.
Lots of firms in the Silicon Valley have been rehiring great engineers and high-tech talent for years because of demand. So this is not really news for them.
What’s really new here is that this boomeranging trend has now reached the Human Resources field – and most of these HR boomerangs are millennials. These are folks who pulled the trigger too quickly, realized that the grass on the other side wasn’t greener ... and have now come back to firms they probably shouldn’t have left so fast.
But hey, everyone makes career mistakes. Things change. Life moves on.
In any event, this global boomeranging trend is good news for you. If nothing else, it gives you more options.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an entrylevel HR pro, director, senior executive or even an HR consultant – it means going back to one of your former employers is a more realistic career opportunity than it ever has been before.
And perhaps it’s a career move you should consider.
Assuming you left one of your past organizations on good terms, there are a number of reasons why you may be attractive to them:
• You’re a known entity. They know your past experience. They assume you’ve picked up some new HR or leadership skills that you can bring to the table which will help them. And if you’ve left recently, they know what to expect from you.
• You can get up to speed quicker. You’re already familiar with the company culture, policies and operations, so you can start contributing and producing sooner.
• You provide a competitive advantage versus a new hire. You may have pre-existing relationships with clients and significant insights from your prior stint with the organization.
Interested? Here’s how YOU can begin to capitalize on this trend:
• Stay in touch. Many firms hold social events where alumni employees are welcomed. Attend them. Also make it a point to contact your former employers two to three times a year just to see how things are going. If you left on good terms and do a great job of keeping in touch with former colleagues, you’re likely to be an attractive boomerang candidate.
• Connect through social media. It is likely that your former employers are somewhere on social media, whether it’s LinkedIn, Pinterest or Twitter. Keep your profiles professional and use these channels to connect with them in an informal way by retweeting or commenting on something they post.
• Get face time. Stop into the office periodically or invite former employers to lunch or dinner. This is a great way to get to know your former employers on a more personal level and keep you top of mind when opportunities come up.
• Keep an eye out for news about your former companies. When something comes up, send over a nice note with a link to the news. It doesn’t have to be anything extensive, but showing you’re keeping an eye on their successes is a great way to show you still care and have them top of mind.
Now let’s look at the other side of the coin. Coming back isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Even if you left on good terms, some firms may not want you back.Even those employers that do will want to cover their butts before allowing you to return.
Besides making you jump through the usual prehire hoops, expect to be internally background checked and vetted thoroughly with any former managers still there.
You should also be prepared to be probed hard in your interviews. They’ll want to determine why the heck you left in the first place and why you now want to return.
It’s fine if you left because you simply wanted to assume a different HR role or acquire a different experience. That’s called managing one’s career and entirely understandable.
But if you left due to a boss conflict or because of cultural fit issues, that’s a huge problem -- and will be difficult, if not impossible, to overcome.
Also be prepared for change. You’ll rarely come back to the same situation you left. More than likely, you’re coming back to a new position, or company policies have changed or you’ll likely be working under – or over – a new team of people or leader. So be don’t be surprised.
Bottom line, being a boomerang candidate isn’t a slam dunk, but it can payoff – and can create new potential opportunities for advancing your HR career. So it may be worth thinking about.
Never say never.