Landing The Same Fish: A Hiring Strategy

When consulting in hiring strategies, I am often asked about re-hiring someone who once worked for you. Some of my colleagues are of the mindset that this is not a good idea. However, I think that’s nonsense!

Why would you not re-hire someone who previously was a good employee for you? With a few caveats, you will see as you read on.

Will They Bring Value Back?

Many factors go into this decision. Why did they leave? Will they bring value back to your organization? Are they a good fit now? Were they previously a good fit? In most cases, I’d say a re-hire is a good decision, assuming they were an asset to your organization the first go-round. You already know them—they’ve been vetted; they know your corporate culture—and presumably are coming back because they know it is a fit.

First, you need to look at why they left. Leaving to pursue an opportunity your company could not provide them at the time would certainly be an “acceptable” reason to depart an organization.

For example, if they left because they wanted to pursue a leadership opportunity that you were unable to offer is completely understandable. I’d hope you would wish them nothing but the best in their pursuit of moving up the corporate ladder and landing a leadership position.

If your company could not do that at the time, would you want to hold them back from a personal goal and/or success? One terrific executive our organization rehired had a very different leadership style from the executive vice president he reported to. When that vice president retired a couple of years later, we put out feelers to our former employee, who had kept in touch with others in our organization.

They Could Be an Asset Again

If someone was an asset previously, the likelihood is they’ll be an asset again. You know them, they know you. You know their work ethic, their personality, and why they left. If all of those things are positive, I see it as nothing but a win-win situation.

Next, sometimes people must leave to realize how good they’ve got it! Most of us have left something—a job, a situation, maybe even a relationship only to realize that the grass is indeed NOT greener on the other side of the fence. Sometimes, we leave seeking a better life, a better job, and a better person.

When we land wherever we thought was better, sometimes we realize that the previous job, person, or situation wasn’t that bad. That job we thought we didn’t like, we didn’t hate because what we found wasn’t better—it was just different. Or maybe we just need to see what else is out there. When I worked at Bose, this seemed to be a common phenomenon—because their culture was so exceptional when people would leave for potentially greener pastures, they often returned later—often with new skills and leadership abilities.

Job-hopping Is Now Common

Also, remember that, for the most part, people are not staying in jobs as long as our previous generations did. “Job-hopping” has steadily increased over time and across all industries, and people leave for different reasons. Back in the day, our parents and their parents often had one or two jobs throughout their lifetime. They started a job at 22 and often stayed there until retirement and a pension.

Today that is almost unheard of. As years have progressed, we find that it is not just millennials who will change jobs more than their previous generations. The average person will change jobs 12 times in their lifetime.

I have a final story about an extremely creative employee we once had. This outside-the-box thinker was not one to stay at any one job for too long. Like many creative thinkers, he welcomed change, challenges, and new adventures.

After a few years, he decided to part ways with us—a completely amicable situation. It was “time” for him, and I understood. However, something I have believed in for a long time—is that for the time he was a part of our team, he delivered.

He was a fantastic asset to our organization. We were lucky to have him for the time we did. I can assure you if an opportunity opened up for us to hire him back, we most certainly would! I held no grudge; I can attest that he was an excellent employee, and any company would be lucky to have had him. So, why not hire him again?

We have to stop the mentality that we shouldn’t welcome back ex-employees. Each situation is, of course, different, but if we had a good employee and they left on good terms, why not bring them back to our workplace? Let them show us once again that we are lucky to have them.

Go ahead and land that same fish—twice!

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