Your rockstar employee left for greener pastures, only to find out the grass was not as green as they thought and now wants to return. Do you set your ego aside and re-employ them? 

David Collings, Professor of HR Management at Dublin City University, says ‘yes,’ in an article for HR Magazine. Nurturing former employees via an alumni network and inviting them back in as boomerang hires when the time is right can propel your business forward faster than any greenhorn with even the best intentions.

Changemakers In A Changing World

Did you know famous boomerang hires include Steve Jobs of Apple, Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls, and Howard Schultz of Starbucks? They are all former employees who returned to literally turn the companies around. 

They’re not alone, and a changing working landscape has ignited a boomerang employment culture, one that benefits both the employer and the employee. 

According to research, the failure rate of new hires is 50%. Compare this to the fact that company alumni who become boomerang employees stay on board, on average, two years longer than other hires. 

The good news is a Workplace Trends study found 76% of HR professionals are currently more inclined to hire boomerang employees than they were in the past. At the same time, 40% of employees said they would consider boomeranging back to their previous employer.

David Collings On Building A Pipeline Of Boomerang Hires

  1. If the departing employee is leaving under a cloud or for a direct competitor, you can close the book and say your goodbyes. In all other cases, you have to make the offboarding experience a positive one. Involve senior management in the exit interview to diplomatically discuss why the person is leaving and ask what you could have done differently. Ensure the employee leaves with a positive view of your organization.
  2. Develop an alumni network to move engagement from transactional to value-based. In an alumni community, former employees can provide benefits such as recruiting referrals, sales leads, business development, and act as brand ambassadors.
  3. Invest in an alumni technology platform as technology to manage your alumni network. Make sure an internal team member with community experience oversees the network.
  4. Keep the alumni network alive and communication open by hosting corporate events, happy hours, organizational meet-ups, etc. These are drawcards for ex-employees and a major driver of network engagement.
  5. A successful alumni network depends on leveraging relationships with former employees using data to track their career progression and staying in touch without overwhelming them. Then, when a role opens, and they are right for it, you can reach out with confidence.


Whether you call them boomerang hires, alumni, or comeback colleagues, former employees can become colleagues for life with a successful alumni program. It’s a win-win situation. 

An alumni network creates a valuable talent pool of professional workers that companies facing skills and talent gaps simply cannot ignore. 

Sign up for early access to the upcoming release of The Alumni Advantage. The book provides an end-to-end understanding of how organizations are recognizing and leveraging their former employees, authored by James Sinclair, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of EnterpriseAlumni.