The essential five-point checklist for rehiring former employees

Learn the Ins and Outs of rehiring a former employee.

Businesses are finding increasingly creative ways to recruit talent. One particularly noteworthy trend is the growing practice of rehiring former employees, a phenomenon that has generated quite a bit of press in recent years. It may seem counter-intuitive in some respects, but can be a powerful complement to traditional recruitment channels when applied correctly.

Understanding the operational situation

The first step for a business considering to bring former workers back into the fold should be to weigh the potential benefits against the required effort. One situation in which a rehiring policy can be decidedly worthwhile is during the holiday season, when retailers need to quickly recruit a large number of temporary workers to meet consumer demand. Hiring people who have already worked for your company in previous years can reduce training requirements and make it easier to fill every position.

In contrast, sifting through old resumes when an opening has already attracted hundreds of applications via job boards probably isn’t the best use of time. Identifying exactly where rehiring employees is applicable before a company jumps into the deep end can help realize a better return.

Ensure that former employees are still a good fit

After you’ve determined that rehiring could be a good way to fill a certain position, it’s time to seek out potential candidates. The most obvious place to start is the system where employees’ job applications are kept. Archived resumes are generally not the most up-to-date source of information, but they provide a faster way to filter former employees than individually looking up each company alumnus on LinkedIn.

With the initial candidate list in hand, the HR team can start filtering potential hires based on factors such as whether or not an employee left on good terms. The amount of research that needs to be done from there depends on how much time has passed since the worker departed. After a few years, a former employee’s skill set and career focus can potentially change so much that they’re no longer be a good fit for a position.

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Bring workers up to speed

The fact that a returning employee doesn’t have to learn everything from scratch may make it tempting to skip the onboarding process.  However, it’s important to keep in mind that they must still catch up with the changes that have taken place since they departed and ease back into their job.

This unique set of needs may in some cases require a business to develop new onboarding procedures separate from the ones used normally. Returning seasonal workers, for example, might not have to be instructed on how to operate a cash register but would still need to be brought up to speed about a new sales practice that was adopted after their stints ended.

Address the personal side

Helping employees hit the ground running with their work is only half the battle. The other is to address any personal barriers that might make it difficult for them to find their old place in the workplace, which is often more difficult than with new hires.

The reason is that the driver behind why a returning staffer originally chose to leave the company is not always as straightforward as it appears. Even if they departed on good terms, an employee’s decision may have been influenced by conflicts with a superior or some other issue that slipped by the HR team. A business must have the ability to address such issues if it is to effectively recruit and retain former employees.

Plan ahead

The best way to make a rehiring policy work is to lay the foundations early. When an employee leaves, an HR representative should hold an exit interview to understand why they’re going away and identify potential problems. It’s also an opportunity to get honest feedback about the business as a whole, which can often be useful for more than just recruitment purposes.

Some companies take it a step further by actively staying in touch with employees after they leave. Keeping the line open, even with something as simple as the occasional email update, can make it much easier to reach out about an opening when the time comes. With nearly 40 percent of Americans saying that they’d consider returning to a past employer, such an engagement strategy has the potential to pay off handsomely.

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