Boomerang Hiring – Advantages and Pitfalls


What Is a Boomerang Hire?

A boomerang hire is simply the re-hiring of a former employee who left your company under good terms. Perhaps the person moved too far away to remain employed by your company but has now returned, or left to pursue educational goals full time – there are many good reasons that a former employee might want to return to your company.

Advantages of Re-hiring Former Employees

Re-hiring former employees has some obvious advantages. After all, you already know something about this person’s work style and performance record. A former employee may still be familiar with your company’s structure, goals, and procedures. Former employees can enhance the “corporate memory” available to you by bringing their previous understanding of your company back with them. Former employees may also have gathered relevant and important experience that are assets they bring back to your company. There are, however, some pitfalls that bear keeping in mind.

What Are the Pitfalls?

Let’s take a closer look at some of those potential pitfalls, and what you can do to avoid them.

  • How long has it been? People change over time and so do companies. So, too, does yours. This means that, depending on how long since he or she left your company, the former employee may not be returning to exactly the same company. His or her familiarity with the way things were done before he or she left may actually not be an asset now.
  • Is the former employee returning to the same job, or applying for a different one? This can make a big difference in how much the person’s previous experience with your company will prove to be an asset if he or she is re-hired. For example, if the person left to complete a college degree, he or she will likely be applying for a job that was out of his or her reach previously.
  • What has the former employee been doing since he or she left your company? Is it related to your company’s mission and goals? Why does he or she want to return to your company? (It’s flattering to assume it’s because he or she thinks your company is the best one to work for, but beware of assumptions!)

Avoiding the Pitfalls

The best way to avoid the pitfalls I’ve listed above is to treat a former employee who wants to return to your company, even if you have actively recruited the person to do so, in the same way that you would treat any other candidate. This means that you follow all the selection procedures that you have in place, including (but not limited to, as they say):

  • evaluating their employment history since they left your company previously
  • talking to former supervisors/managers
  • conducting standard interviews
  • asking the person to complete all selection process steps, such as tests, work samples, background screening, that you require of all other candidates.

Going through this process provides you with current information about the person on which to base an employment decision, makes the process equitable for the former employee as well as for all other candidates, and gives the former employee the opportunity to evaluate his or her opportunities now with your company.