In today’s harsh hiring landscape, recruiters and HR professionals are pulling out all the stops to find great candidates. They’re getting creative, whether that means widening the definition of “qualified” or setting up programs designed to bring in more applicants. Here are just some of the trends we’re seeing:

  • Robust employee referral programs
  • Mobile-optimizing job distributions
  • Launching better training and professional development opportunities
  • Doing the hard work of improving company culture

One recruit pipeline that doesn’t get a lot of attention – but should be searingly obvious – is approaching former employees.

We know – at first glance, the strategy seems like a downer. No employer wants to be seen as begging employees to return. But … Is that really the perception these so-called boomerang employees have? We don’t think so, and neither do major thought leaders like Microsoft, Deloitte and Dell, which are reputed to have “alumni” groups for former employees, so staying connected is easier.

There are some caveats to the trend, though, so beware of inviting back employees who:

  • Burned bridges on the way out
  • Have a demonstrated history of job-hopping
  • Were fired for something that still wouldn’t be acceptable
  • Aren’t the best candidate for the role

Because the former-employee recruitment strategy can pay off big for employers struggling to bring in qualified workers, we’ve outlined the pros and cons of rehiring former employees.


You Know What You’re Getting

When you rehire someone, you’ve seen their act before. You have insight into their work style, expectations and personality. You get the opportunity to evaluate them beyond references and work experience.

They Know What to Expect

As long as they haven’t been out of your employ for more than a few years, they likely have an honest view of what it’s like working for you. And if they want to do it again, it says a lot about their experience with you in the past and is a compliment to your organization.

They Bring Outside Knowledge Inside

If you’re looking at a strategic position in sales or executive leadership, your potential rehire should be rejoining you with enhanced perspective, industry insight and maybe even new skills. The best teams are more diverse, so by bringing in an outside voice, you’re adding a new note to the conversation that might have gone unheard with a workforce built internally.

For positions like skilled laborers, perhaps the potential rehire gained new skills or witnessed a process improvement that can be implemented on your team.

A Positive Reminder For Other Employees

In an employee-centric environment like the one we’re in now, even the most loyal employee might think the grass looks greener on the other side. Regardless of what drew them away in the first place – an exciting opportunity, more money, starting a family – what brings them back says a lot about them. In some ways, coming back to a previous employer can be humbling, but if they have a new perspective about the value of working for you, it’s good for current team members, too.

Up and Running Faster

Returning employees are likely to know how to pick up and get going on the job if they’ve done it before. Whether that means connecting with old customers or working a job site like an old pro, a quick time-to-productivity ratio is a pro for the recruiter and the team.

Shorter To-Hire Time

If you have a job opening and you know exactly who the best person for the job is, you’re going to save a lot of resources combing through resumes and conducting interviews.


Old Baggage

If your potential rehire didn’t get along with co-workers or managers who are still on the team, look out. Inviting a combustive relationship back into the workforce can be bad for employee morale as well as the returning prospect.

Fool Me Once…

Boy, it sure would be annoying if that returning employee decided to take off again, costing you time, money and pride. Make sure the relationship is in good standing before you take the leap of inviting them back to the team.

These Aren’t the Good Old Days

If your potential rehire has been out of the company for a substantial amount of time, be on the lookout for personalities who will have trouble coping with change. “The good old days” might be remembered fondly, but technology, the #MeToo movement, safety guidelines and lots of other things have changed the landscape of most industries. All new employees – returning or not – need to be ready to adapt to new business expectations.

Recruiting in the era of epic-low unemployment is tougher than ever. With a smart HR software, you have an edge.

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