The Secret to Sourcing Boomerang Employees

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Feb 23, 2024

Boomerang employees are the best kept secret of the recruiting world, but they are far from simple to understand. A boomerang employee is someone who left an organization and then regains employment at that same organization after some time away. The benefits you will find with boomerang employees are their knowledge of the organization and the relationships they have built internally. These benefits drastically cut down on the time it takes for a new hire to get acquainted with the organization and how everything works, but knowing who a good candidate is for rehire can be tough to navigate. Even if an individual is eligible for rehire according to their HR files, it does not necessarily mean they are someone the hiring manager or team would want to target for reemployment. It takes strong communication with your hiring manager to understand whom to identify and target when sourcing for boomerang employees. Like all aspects of hiring, this is a two-way street. You are going to have to sell this opportunity to the previous team member and ensure the reasons that caused them to leave have been resolved. Once you have identified who your prospects are, here is how you can go about sourcing them.

Boomerang Drip Campaign

This version of a drip campaign requires that your team has identified an employee as a target for rehire immediately upon their departure. While this is not always the case, this does occur with strong employees when an agreement may not have been reached in time or other unforeseen circumstances caused them to leave the company. If an individual is identified as a target for a boomerang hire later, the timeline on this campaign can be altered and the messaging adjusted to make sense based on how long ago the individual left the organization.

The boomerang drip campaign consists of three messages sent over 90 days:

  • 30 days following departure: Send a friendly message letting the individual know that they are missed at the organization or on their team. Let them know you hope they are enjoying their new company. It is extremely important that this message is positive and does not have a call to action. The only goal here is to maintain a positive relationship and let the individual know you care about them.
  • 60 days out: Like the first message, this is just an encouraging check-in. You can ask how it is going and let them know that their impact is missed at the organization. There is no call to action here either. Just another touch point to let them know you care, and they are valued by your company.
  • 90 days out: Now is the time to sell. Use your judgment to determine how aggressive your pitch can be. Let the individual know that the team is still raving about their work. Share that there is a position open or available headcount to rehire that position. You can either ask them about returning directly or you can ask if they can refer someone who is just like them. This indirect way may open a door for their rehire.

The boomerang drip campaign is an effective way to maintain a connection with a rockstar employee after their employment has been terminated. This campaign will show the individual that you and the company really care about them and that their work at the organization was valued. If the grass on the other side wasn’t as green as they expected, this campaign opens a door for them to comfortably come back, a win-win for everyone.

Alumni Network

Leveraging your company’s alumni network is another great place to source potential boomerangs. If someone has joined the alumni network, you can assume they still have a positive view of the company and value the relationships they hold with current members of the organization. Talent acquisition professionals should hold a close relationship with the leaders of your alumni network to be able to communicate and work together to identify and convert potential boomerangs. Alumni networks are also a good sourcing tool for referrals and general leads as well. If your organization has an alumni network, make sure to strategically utilize this group as a part of your sourcing strategy.

It’s All About Who You Know

Some of your best former employees will still hold relationships with your current team members. Whether this is a best friend or just a simple LinkedIn connection, utilizing relationships is a great way to find boomerang employees. Encourage your current employees to submit referrals and share job opportunities with their networks. You should let them know that former team members can always be up for referral as well. Anytime you are looking at a potential rehire, there are additional layers to navigate, but if the person checks all the boxes, you could be regaining a valuable asset.

Another way to take advantage of employee relationships is to use them in the initial outreach. If the team has already identified a potential boomerang and they have a known relationship with a current team member, you can consider bringing that team member into the recruiting process and asking them to send the initial outreach. Maybe the prospect has been gone for a long time and the recruiters did not overlap at the company with them; this is a great time to find a connection and utilize their relationship in the outreach.

Exit Interview Intel

Exit interviews can provide insight into why an employee chose to leave the company. It is important to note that exit interviews may not tell the whole story and may be biased so that the former employee can leave on a positive note. However, if the exit interview can help the team understand where the disconnect occurred, it can also potentially lead to a solution. For example, if the individual left primarily due to a desire for growth and they had maxed out their role within your company, this is important to note. If your company progresses and there is a new growth track for that role, that is a good selling point to share in the outreach with that individual. If any listed issues have been resolved, you can lead the conversation with that and see if that makes a difference to the former employee.

Goodbye Doesn’t Have to Be Forever

Just because someone chooses to leave your organization, it doesn’t mean goodbye forever. There are hundreds of reasons people choose to move on to a new company. If it makes sense for both the company and the individual to explore another opportunity in the future, that is exciting. Encourage your hiring teams to keep an open mind and consider targeting potential boomerang employees in your sourcing efforts.

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