What to Know Before Becoming a Boomerang Employee

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alumniex Author

Workers are returning to jobs they left during the Great Resignation. But is it ever a good idea to be a boomerang employee?

Originally Published: USNEWS

When it comes to jobs, absence can make the heart grow fonder. A recent Forbes article by Benjamin Laker identified “boomerang workers” – referring to workers who return to a former company after leaving a job – as a 2022 career trend following the Great Resignation.

According to a survey on the career site Monster.com, the majority (61%) of employees polled would consider boomeranging, with 41% stating that they would go back to a previous place of employment for improved work culture, and nearly three quarters (72%) being willing to return for better pay and benefits.

Is It Ever a Good Idea to Go Back to a Former Employer?

From the employer’s perspective, there are reasons that it can be beneficial to rehire workers who have left and realize they want to come back, notes Laker, including the fact that previous employees already have an awareness of the company’s culture and values. But as an employee, is it wise to boomerang?

It may be a good idea to return to a former employer; however, you must first take some steps to determine whether or not it makes sense for your particular situation.

How to Determine if You Should Go Back to an Old Job 

Figuring out whether becoming a boomerang employee makes sense should begin by evaluating why you left in the first place.

“As you conduct your job search, you may want to include your former employer in the mix, but also think about why you left and if those reasons and/or red flags have changed during your absence,” says Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster and former U.S. News contributor.

“If it was a toxic boss, maybe the boss left. If you felt like you weren’t advancing your career, maybe you now have skills and experiences that catapult your career to another level (or two), and you can return commanding a higher salary and title.”

Finally, the career expert recommends thinking about whether you want to return to your old job if you recently left, or if it makes more sense to aim for a job with a higher salary and more responsibilities, assuming you’ve gained valuable skills and experiences.

“Then, you may return to familiar territory with significantly less ramp-up time than if you were a new hire assimilating into an entirely new environment, but things may have changed while you were gone,” Salemi says.

Tips on Returning to an Old Job

If you do decide that going back to your former employer makes sense, then you should be strategic about your next steps. Salemi advises first talking to people who still work there, such as former colleagues. “Get a sense of what’s changed or what hasn’t changed and where the company is headed,” she says.

She also recommends doing your homework by researching the company, looking at their social media feeds, and carefully examining this information “with a fresh perspective,” as if you had never worked there before. To do so, you can ask the following questions:

  • Does it look like the right fit? 
  • Culturally, do you see any red flags? 
  • Are there any openings? 

Once you’ve informally spoken to one or more people who still work there and completed your information gathering, the next step should involve reaching out to your former boss, but only if you were on good terms.

“If your boss was toxic and you want to return to the company, but not your old job, try to connect with other department heads as well as HR to see if there’s a fit for you,” Salemi says, adding that this approach should only be leveraged if you were an excellent employee.

“There’s a labor shortage right now and companies are still competing for top talent,” Salemi says. “I’m a former corporate recruiter and can attest when it’s a boomerang employee, the candidate is often expedited through the hiring process because they have a track record.”

The reason, she explains, is that prospective bosses can pull former performance reviews, and people can often vouch for you. With this in mind, Salemi encourages potential boomerang employees not to be shy about pursuing a new role in another department of your former company.

“Speak to people who make hiring decisions to talk about your skills and experiences,” she says. “Yes, you will still need to share your resume and sell yourself. They should sell their company and the role to you, too.”

During these conversations, Salemi advises that boomerang candidates ask specific questions, listen and build rapport during the interview process the same way they would with any other employer. Finally, think about your career goals and what you really want.

“Ultimately, you’re looking for the right fit, and if you realize the fit is there from your prior employment and the reasons why you left have altered, then by all means go for it,” Salemi concludes. “Remember to negotiate that job offer and go into it with a new perspective, realizing that, yes, many things will be familiar, but many other things will have changed, too.”