Publication: AFWA
June 2016

Ready to Rehire? How to Bring Back Former Employees

Would you rehire a former employee? If so, you’re not alone: A recent Accountemps survey found that 98 percent of human resources managers would welcome back a worker who had left the company on good terms.

Sometimes called “boomerang employees,” rehired workers come with plenty of benefits. They already understand the company and they don’t need as much hand-holding. Also, you’re familiar with their talents, skill set, personality and corporate fit, minimizing your chances of making a costly bad hire. In fact, boomerang employees can be such an asset that some managers and HR departments choose to keep in contact with their “alumni” as a way to recruit passively.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when you’re considering hiring boomerang employees, along with a few tips for integrating them back into the office:

When to rehire

Of course, you wouldn’t rehire former workers who left on bad terms. But it’s not always the right move to ask top performers to come back, either. Here are a few things to think about when former employees want to return:

  • Why did the person resign from your company in the first place? If the employee left to take a higher-level position elsewhere, then rehiring him for an even more senior role could be a smart move — he’ll likely have valuable new skills and experience to bring to the job. The same is true if the employee stepped down to further his education or attain a new certification. . Also, if you reluctantly let someone go during downsizing, it’s wise to consider a rehire during a boom period.

However, if the employee resigned because he was dissatisfied with an aspect of the job — the salary, benefits package, management, coworkers or company culture, for example — and the situation has not changed, it’s probably not wise to rehire him. There’s a good chance he’ll soon find himself unhappy on the job again.

  • Do you need someone to step in right away? Rehiring former employees can be useful when you have a time-sensitive assignment or need to replace a departing worker as soon as possible. They’re a known entity, so you don’t have to spend time checking their references or doing multiple rounds of interviews.
  • What does your current team say? When you’re considering a rehire, reach out to the employees who worked closely with the person the first time around. They may have insights into the person’s skills and fit for the workplace environment that you weren’t aware of.

How to approach rehiring

Even though boomerang employees can be great additions to your staff, there are right and wrong ways to rehire someone. Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind:

  • DO meet with other candidates. Even if you think the former worker is the ideal person for the open position, it never hurts to interview other candidates, as well. There might be one who’s an even better fit for the job, or one who’d make a good candidate for another open position at your company.
  • DON’T skip the formal interview. People change. A former employee may have new professional goals or constraints that prevent him from fulfilling certain job duties, such as traveling or working the occasional late night. Also, if a boomerang employee has been gone a long time, his skills may not be as sharp. Use the interview process to dig deeper, especially if the person is applying for a role that’s different from the one he previously held.
  • DO clarify expectations. A returning employee may have preconceptions about the role she’s applying for, based on what it was like when she used to be on staff. If the job duties have evolved or new skills are required, make sure to explain that.
  • DON’T forget about other options. There are many types of work arrangements. If you can’t offer the former employee a full-time position, consider using her talents as a part-time worker, contractor or project professional.
  • DO keep the door open. Even if you decide against rehiring a former employee, or the person declines the job offer, stay in touch. You never know when circumstances — or minds — will change.

As with any job candidate, it’s important to weigh the risks and benefits when contemplating a rehire. The opportunity to bring back a former top worker might be welcome, but don’t neglect doing your due diligence before you make the hire.

Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps has more than 325 locations worldwide. More resources, including online job search services and the Accountemps blog, can be found at

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