Can Boomerang Candidates be a Bangarang for Your Recruitment Strategy?

Boomerang candidates are the basic definition of a double-edged sword in the recruitment sector. On one hand, it is natural to feel a bit jilted by a former employee. After all, they left! But in today’s ever-shrinking pool of eligible candidates, can you really refuse to bring someone back who performs? 

 Let’s talk about the advantages and risks when it comes to re-hiring a boomerang candidate


The Grass is No Longer Greener

This may be a personal feeling, but it seems that boomerang talent knows how good they had it if they choose to come back to a previous employer. The appreciation level that comes from being re-hired is actually quite high and at least in my case, I’ve noticed that job satisfaction increases.

Sometimes people just feel they need to “see what’s out there” to know that they were already in a great place. This kind of feeling tends to lead to a great retention percentage. According to ERE, “once they decide to return, unless the business has changed dramatically they are unlikely to leave again. And they may even help to retain other employees because as ‘brown grassers’ they tell negative stories of what it’s like to work at your firm’s competitors.” 

No Training

Training is a huge hurdle. When you find a strong hire, the training can be worth it, but when you are in a tight spot sometimes it’s best to hire a proven winner.

In fact, “According to the 2014 Training Industry Report from Training magazine, the annual training budgets of U.S. small businesses totaled an average of $308,000 in 2014, with retail and wholesale spending more than half a million dollars. Approximately $1,200 was spent per employee.” 

Of course that doesn’t include associated costs like the time a person spends training the newbie. That time is often something you cannot afford.

Realistic Expectations

Depending on your job description and the level of experience of a new hire, miscalculations or misconceptions arise. Even if you thought your job description was crystal clear, interpretation is not an objective thing. When this problem arises, it may lead to friction, quitting or even dismissal.

Hiring a previous employee ensures that you are bringing someone on board who knows the requirements of the role inside and out thus alleviates many problems. 

New Skills

Even if the re-hire didn’t particularly love the job they are leaving to come back to you, chances are they learned some new skills that will benefit your organization. Basically, it’s like getting an upgrade absolutely free!

It’s Easy and Effective

The fact is, re-hiring works. It just does. According to ERE, “A boomerang program is a ‘low-hanging fruit’ solution because it works quickly, costs little, and produces extraordinary results. Fortunately, data supports the value of boomerang rehiring because boomerangs ‘have been rated No. 1 in new hire quality' (Source: Randall Birkwood). Even without much effort, they can also produce a high volume of hires (at DaVita they reached up to 16 percent of all hires). And most former employees are more than willing to return; research by ExitCheck found that ‘72 percent of past employees would return to the company if the opportunity arose.’ Focus at least 20 percent of your sourcing effort on candidates that are not strangers.”


Behind the Times

If it’s been a while, changes may have been made within the organization and that can be hard for some re-hires. If your re-hire isn't flexible, this may cause friction. 

Square Peg, Round Hole

Now, this isn’t always the case, but sometimes looking backward isn’t the most advantageous choice as employer. If the re-hire wasn’t excellent before then chances are they will never be “right” for your role. Sometimes fresh faces are better!

According to Forbes, “although a former colleague may be less expensive to hire, and they may have already been proven to be a cultural fit, that rock star might still be out their waiting—with a hunger you’ve never experienced before. So, keep your options open. Look for the best. And, don’t settle for easy.” 

Speed Up

While the concept of re-hiring boomerangs is relatively new in the recruitment world (it used to be an absolute no), the trend is gathering speed. The Business Journals even went as far as heralding it as an executive hiring trend for 2018

So while it is clear that many companies are finding it effective, acting slowly is not an option. This is not going to be something you can institute without heavy competition from other former employers.

Boomerang recruitment is not a fit for everyone, but if you think it might work for you, contact us to get started.

Contact Mike Walsh