4 things to expect when returning to an ex-employer

Boomerang employees should expect to be assessed the same way as any regular candidate


The massive pool of available talent, now more than ever before, can make the best job seekers doubt their potential. When uncertainties abound, it is only natural to seek the comfort of familiarity. When you begin your job hunt, it may help to consider your former employer. Both of you know each other and if you truly are the best at your job, your ex-company will gladly welcome you.

While the internet may lead you to believe that organisations are not really in favour of boomerang hires, the truth remains that the role fit is all that the recruiting and hiring managers are concerned about. Therefore, if your ex-employer has a vacancy for your role, do not hesitate to apply. Industry leaders share their thoughts with HRKatha on considering a boomerang employee for hire.

Rajorshi Ganguli

“If they cited certain reasons for leaving earlier and those reasons still exist then one should be wary of hiring them.”

  1. Right fit for the job

As long as candidates fit the job requirement, it does not matter whether they’re a regular or boomerang hire. Ultimately, recruiting and hiring managers are driven by the company’s best interests, and therefore, “the fundamental question is what is going to work for the company,” says Rajeev Singh, CHRO, ATG Tires. “When I’m hiring for a position, it’s based on the candidate’s merit and fit for the role.” Therefore, when he’s interviewing a former employee for another term at the company, “if they have everything the role requires then I don’t see boomerang hiring as a problem,” says Singh.

Regardless of the candidate, it is an industry best practice to follow the basic principles of talent management at all times, which is, that, “ You only hire high performers or those candidates who possess the skills you need at the moment,” explains Vinay Bassi, CHRO, Arvind Ltd, “Those principles remain the same even at the time of boomerang hiring.”

Vinay Bassi

“Boomerang candidates who have added some skill, are quick and independent learners, and have the agility to catch up with the organisation are most attractive to recruiters.”

2. Recap in detail

Leaving to return is a move that would make anyone curious, the HR in particular. Candidates should fully expect their interview to include questions about the circumstances under which they left and whether things have changed since. “They must have left for some reason. Therefore, while getting them back, it’s important to be certain that they don’t find the same reason to leave again,” says Singh. Assessing why an employee left the company the first time around is a top priority.

Experts believe it is important to analyse whether the context for leaving has changed. If it has not, that’s reason to doubt the employee’s motives to return. “If they cited certain reasons for leaving earlier and those reasons still exist then one should be wary of hiring them,” says Rajorshi Ganguli, president & Global HR Head, Alkem Laboratories. “It could just be an opportunistic application because they have no other option outside,” explains Ganguli. Therefore, if you’re applying just to test the waters, your former employer should perhaps not be on the list.

It is also to make sure a former employee is not approaching the company with an outdated perspective, particularly in the case of those returning after a long period. “Organisations change over time and so do their goals, required skills and culture,” points out Bassi. Boomerang employees who are stuck in the past are a turn off for recruiters. They have to be careful that “when they come back, they don’t expect the organisation to be how it was when they left,” adds Bassi.

3. What’s new?

Former employees are at an advantage when they can convince a recruiter that they have something new to bring to the table. Finding out whether there has been an upgrade in experience, skill or the self helps recruiters with a fresh perspective on candidates they already know. “’What has changed in you between the time you left and when I’m meeting you again’ is a typical question I ask. Otherwise, it’ll be like hiring the same person that left,” says Ganguli. “In that case, it may not be a great idea to rehire. They have to bring some enhanced learning that can be applied to the job in our context.”

Recruiters expect a certain value-add from boomerang hires. You have to go the extra mile to demonstrate how you have evolved since the last time you were associated with the company. “People who have added some skill, are quick and independent learners, and have the agility to catch up with the organisation” are some of the boomerang candidates that are most attractive to recruiters, notes Bassi.

Rajeev Singh

“I hired based on the merit and fit. If they have everything the role requires then I don’t see boomerang hiring as a problem.”

4. No brownie points

Finally, candidates should not expect preferential treatment or a salary bump just because they have been with the company before. No matter how many times they have won ‘employee of the month’ in their earlier term, they must remember that recruiters look at boomerang hires as a fresh start and so should they.

“Recruiting and hiring managers should assess a boomerang employee exactly the same way they would a regular candidate,” says Singh. “They should not think of a boomerang hire as an easy way to fill a position.” Ganguli concurs, “Former employees should be hired only if the company believes they can add value and their performance is good.”

In the case of boomerang hires, HR managers are particularly wary of salary inflaters. At times, candidates are prone to shuffle between companies in a bid to make money. “It’s a rehiring principle to not give an abnormal raise usually,” shares Ganguli, “because then you set the wrong example for the others. Just by leaving the company, joining another and then returning, you’re raising the value of the person.”

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