What do Steve Jobs , LeBron James and Mikel Arteta have in common?  Both are what is becoming commonly known in the HR world as boomerang employees:  Previous employees of a company who have, for various reasons, left that company to work elsewhere or pursue some other adventure, and later down the line become reemployed back in the same company again.  It’s becoming such a thing that apparently even Uber’s old CEO Travis is talking up his plans of “Steve Jobs-ing” his way back into the ride sharing behemoth.

Not, you would think, something that features heavily within our dear old recruitment industry though is it?  Why, you may ask?  Well, as good as our intentions often are, as recruiters we invest heavy doses of emotion into our day to day.  Emotion that is tightly woven around status, ego, relationships, money and personal branding.  So much so that, when a recruiter hands in their notice and leaves, it is often the starting pistol for a series of recriminations, character assassinations and Facebook de-friending.  Bridges are very much buuuuuurned 🔥🔥🔥…

Person with burning newspaper

Photo by Elijah O’Donnell on Unsplash

So it was refreshing to speak with a client earlier this week who declared how they very much like the notion of re-hiring such boomerang employees.  Now admittedly, this client is an HR Manager, and so understands better than most of us that a boomerang recruiter isn’t one who tries throwing shit at a wall and not only does it not stick, it flies back to cover the firm’s reputation in shit too (you know it happens).  He knew the benefits to be had from re-hiring someone back into their old place of employment again, some of which are listed here for you HR types.

It reminded me of a surprising LinkedIn update I saw a couple of months ago, with my old mate who I started out with at Hays many moons ago, back on board with them again after a decade plus elsewhere (Hi Pix!):

And fair play really, things change, and seem to be changing faster all the time.  It’s certainly becoming far more commonplace for people to rapidly change jobs, change careers, or even totally change their entire focus and direction in life (cue Boomer eye-rolling and mutterings about Millennial types).  With the increased mobility, the career chopping and changing, and the speed that companies themselves change and evolve nowadays, it starts to make a bit more sense.

When it comes to recruiters, we’ve always struggled, on the whole, to stick around for too long.  If you’re not a Senior Consultant inside 2 years, or a Principal Consultant inside 4, then you’re just not understood, you’re not valued, or even respected, and you’re very much out of there…right? 😏  LinkedIn tells us that 43% of the people working in Australia’s recruitment and staffing industries changed employers over the past year.

With stats like that it’s hard to ignore at least giving consideration to boomerang recruiters coming back on board for a second stint (unless they microwaved fish at lunch time obviously).

So I imagine this is something that will gradually become more commonplace, even in recruitment.  Are you a boomerang employee?  Or are you a manager who has brought one back into the fold?

I’d love to hear your experiences.

Jonathan Rice

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.

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