Boomerang employees are becoming the new norm in hiring. Career paths are much more fluid than ever before and what once would have been considered unacceptable or untraditional is now common. But what exactly does the rise of boomerang employees mean for the hiring process and for in-house recruiters?

This article will discuss topics around understanding boomerang employees, the benefits of such employees, factors to consider, and strategies to put a company in the best position when hiring.

Understanding the Concept of Boomerang Employees

A boomerang employee is someone who leaves a company and chooses to return either in the same position or in a different role. Like the boomerang, they leave and come back, hence the name.

Some of the main reasons former employees choose to leave are to:

  • Try something different (change in career)
  • Address life changes (having a child, moving, separation)
  • Progress professionally at another company (not enough current growth opportunities)

Whatever the reason for leaving, the employee is back and wants to give it another go. However, keeping the reason for leaving in mind is essential when considering bringing back a previous employee.

Benefits of Hiring Boomerang Employees

When a familiar first name pops up in your inbox, it might come as a surprise. But there are many benefits to hiring an employee who has left and now wants to come back. Here are some examples of the advantages in-house recruitment teams should consider.

Familiarity with the Company Culture and Processes

The great thing about hiring previous employees is that they already know the ropes. They have been with the company before and know what to expect in terms of processes and procedures.

Additionally, if the employee left on good terms, it must be remembered that they were a good fit for the position and believed in the company culture enough to stay for as long as they did.

Cost and Time Savings in Onboarding

This generally only applies if the previous employee is applying for the same position they left. If that’s the case and the onboarding procedures haven’t changed significantly, then it could save a lot of time and money.

Even if the onboarding has changed slightly there’s a high chance the employee remembers their role and the company processes, meaning onboarding will be shorter and more affordable than for a brand-new member of staff.

Access to a Broader Skill Set and Diverse Perspectives

When a previous employee returns from working with another company they have usually acquired more skills. The same happens if they’ve left the company to further their studies or even because of family reasons.

Additionally, boomerang workers that come back may have a more diverse perspective than what they did previously. This can come from life or further work experience, and this wider perspective is invaluable in many roles.

Factors to Consider when Rehiring Boomerang Employees

However, there are also some key things to note when choosing to hire a boomerang employee.

Evaluating the Reasons for Their Departure

Before hiring boomerang employees it’s important to understand why they left in the first place. Did they leave for personal or professional reasons? If they left for personal reasons (illness, further studies, moving) it’s generally easier for them to get back into work.

If the employee left the company with unresolved professional issues (workplace environment, perceived toxic management) this may be more challenging. Any lingering issues must be addressed properly before the boomerang employee can start without it affecting their work.

Assessing their Performance, Skills, and Fit in the Past

Keeping up to date on employee performance is vital if you want to understand whether they are a good fit for the company. If boomerang workers have been there before you’ll have a much better understanding of this compared to new hires.

With the talent pool management system offered by Hireserve ATS, it couldn’t be easier to search and screen past employees on the system based on their skills and qualifications. This helps you make informed decisions about rehiring former employees.

Maintaining Open Communication and Addressing Concerns When Employees Leave

If the employee leaving is a good fit for the position, bridges shouldn’t be burned. An open line of communication with the boomerang employee should be maintained. They should be informed that they are welcome to return for an interview in the future, should they wish, and of course they should be kept in the talent pool.

When they reinterview, the in-house recruiter and hiring manager must address any specific concerns that returning employees may have. It’s important to remind them that while they were once a part of the company, changes have occurred in their absence. The interview should also explain how this might affect their role going forward.

Strategies for Attracting and Retaining Boomerang Employees

So, you want to get your best former employees back and keep them happy in their roles? The following tips are essential to help you make the most of boomerang employees.

Creating a Positive Alumni Network and Culture

Research suggests that 20% of former workers who left their jobs during the pandemic returned once it was over. One of the main reasons for this was companies keeping the door open to boomerang employees through communication about how the company is doing.

Gentle reminders through newsletters and social media updates can keep a company at the back of the employee’s mind. It’s a subtle but effective tool. Hireserve ATS makes these communications effortless, even allowing you to segment audiences in the talent pool to ensure all automated communications are relevant to them.

Reminding a former employee of the company culture is a great way to bring back memories of why they initially chose the company. There is nothing wrong with a business showing off why it’s a great place to work – this starts with a positive company culture.

Building Strong Relationships with Former Employees

It’s no surprise that when an employee leaves the company does what it can to minimise the impact. While very much needed, it doesn’t stop there.

Companies should try to foster and build relationships with boomerang employees. Firstly, it shows that the former employer cares enough to try.

Secondly, it puts the company in a better light for future considerations. Boomerang employees want to know that the company is open to communication on all levels.

Lastly, boomerang employees are far more likely to want to rejoin the organisation if they feel a bond or relationship. It makes them feel safe, heard, and comfortable.

Ensuring a Great Employee Brand

Your employer branding strategy is a big part of what might encourage former employees to return. Yes, they already know what it’s like to work for your organisation, but good employer branding is key to remind them of all the good bits.

Offering Competitive Compensation and Growth Opportunities 

None of the above can be achieved without enticing the boomerang employee to return. One of the best ways to almost guarantee consideration is through better compensation and benefits than what they were making or what they’ve been offered by competitors.

Another is through growth opportunities. If a previous employee can see that there is genuinely a way for them to progress in their career it can often mean more than the financial benefit.

Studies show that good employees generally leave after one year if they feel they aren’t progressing or there are better offers on the table.

If the boomerang employee leaves at the crucial 12-15 month mark, there needs to be an assessment of whether it’s because the company didn’t provide an incentive to stay. If that’s the case then it needs to be evaluated how the company can keep them satisfied in the role this time around.

Look for ways to ensure growth opportunities for the employee specifically through courses, mentoring, and upskilling.


Boomerang employees are a lot more common than ever before, making it essential for companies to know what to consider when a previous employee returns.

Of course, the best way to keep track of your past and potential future employees is through an applicant tracking system with in-built talent pool management features. Hireserve ATS is designed to make it easier than ever for in-house recruiting teams to secure the best talent. Just request a demo or contact us to see how Hireserve can keep the process quick and simple.

About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.