In a time where professionals change roles every 4.2 years on average and companies merge, get acquired and expand every day, there is a good chance you might become a boomerang employee.
“Boomerang employee” refers to a person who is rehired by a former employer.
According to Workplace Trends, three out of four employers would be willing to rehire former employees who performed well and left on good terms. And there are several reasons why:
- Boomerang employees know the company culture and can navigate successfully within it.
- Boomerang employees understand the systems, acronyms and structure of the organization.
- Boomerang employees are a “known entity” who likely come with internal referrals and a track record of performance reviews in their personnel files.
- Boomerang employees may still have relationships with colleagues, customers or vendors that will benefit the organization and make onboarding easier.
- Boomerang employees have often worked for competitors or clients and bring fresh perspectives, contacts and ideas.
Boomerang-to-be employees may initially leave their organizations for a variety of reasons. Some exit on their own terms for a better opportunity, to return to school or to raise a family. Others may get caught up in a restructuring or leadership changes that impact their positions.
No matter the reason for leaving, most professionals recognize that exiting a company gracefully will be beneficial in the future. It’s a small world, especially if you’re in a niche industry. Your former colleagues will continue to be a part of your network and bad behavior may come back to haunt you.
One additional reason to aim for a smooth departure is that you’ll leave the door open to boomeranging.
Here’s how to resign gracefully:
If you’ve left your company involuntarily, you may be unable to complete some of the steps above, but it can be worth it to your long-term career to try. Also, it’s worth asking your manager or HR department if they’d be willing to rehire you in the future. Many companies have an “eligibility for rehire” checkbox that a supervisor completes as part of the closing paperwork. If you performed well, it’s likely the organization would be open to considering you for future roles.
Most managers understand that all jobs are, in essence, temporary in today’s market. Parting ways with the door open to return can be a win-win for both the employer and the employee.
- Never say never. Depending on the reason behind your exit, in the moment you may feel as if you’d never work for this organization again. However, there’s no way to predict the future. Even if the chance is remote, being professional can only help when it comes to references and networking.
- Transition smoothly. Give your boss enough notice to ensure your projects and assignments are completed or organized and handed off to colleagues. For many this is two weeks, but use your discretion. Next, contact clients, vendors and internal partners to alert them of your transition and the name of their new contact person.
- Get it on file. Craft a thoughtful resignation letter that briefly highlights your key contributions during your employment. This will become a part of your permanent employee record and will likely be reviewed if you decide to re-apply to the company at a later time.
- Abridge the exit interview. If required to participate in an exit survey or interview, be conscious of what you communicate. Although potentially tempting, don’t use this opportunity to gripe. Keep it short and share some highlights of your tenure. If you feel compelled, offer constructive input that can help the company without damaging your reputation. It’s still an “interview” so treat it that way and be professional.
- Be gracious. Send emails to those who have helped you including mentors, managers and teammates. Include your new contact information and be sure to LinkIn with contacts. If appropriate, offer to help onboard your replacement, and write recommendations for your direct reports or other colleagues you’ve worked with closely.
- Stay connected. Make it a point to maintain relationships. Set up lunch dates, reach out via email once in a while, or attend the department head’s retirement happy hour. Also, never talk (or write) poorly about your former employer or share proprietary information. You never know who their contacts are (your 2nd-level contacts).