In a soft economy, with so many qualified, out-of-work job seekers to choose from, many companies concerned about cost containment and increasing global competition now opt for a workforce with a shorter learning curve. And who has a shorter learning curve than someone who previously worked for the company?
Former employees, particularly older workers who often have more former employers as contacts, may have an insider's advantage at gaining employment at places where they used to work. Workers who leave a company and eventually return are called “boomerangers.”
Boomeranging is not generally a planned activity. But if you've left a former employer with a good impression and without burning bridges, it's worth some consideration if you're in the job market again.
Could You Boomerang?
Think about going back if you spent at least five years on good terms with a previous company and left for any of these reasons:
- Family matters -- birth, death or extended illness in immediate family.
- Relocation/spousal transfer, etc.
- Return to school.
- Opportunity for professional advancement or to learn new skills that could help you advance your career.
- Career break or sabbatical.
Here are some tips on how to join the growing numbers of boomerangers:
Do Your Homework
Research your former employer as though you had no history. Things will no doubt have changed in your absence, and there may have been turnover or organizational restructuring. If you are going to approach the company, make sure you are informed about its current situation and goals.
Make a list of things you disliked about the company before. Do those problems or personnel still exist? Will a position with the employer help you return to your career path, or put you on a new one you want? Can you expect to add to your knowledge and skills or apply those you learned while you were away?
Test the Waters
Find out if others have boomeranged to your old employer, and talk to them about their experiences. If you respect and can trust your former supervisor (or another manager), call and share your thoughts about returning.
Know the Drawbacks
While employers may be interested in rehiring experienced candidates, they may do so without reinstating former benefit status. The prospect of returning to your former company as a contract worker is one possible downside. You may also face resentment from former coworkers who stayed behind, and it could take a while to reestablish trust.
If the situation looks ideal for both you and your former employer and you decide to return, be prepared to stay at least a couple of years. Returning to an employer can be a positive career move, but only if you stick around the second time.
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