How to Throw a Boomerang

Edition: August 2001 - Vol 9 Number 08
Article#: 1019
Author: Repertoire

By now, many of us know someone who up and left his or her company and solid career to join some funky start-up, most likely a How we admired them! How we envied them! How we wondered how much they were worth!!

And even though, in the back of our minds, we may have thought they were incredibly stupid for giving up a good career, we had heard the mantra ''If it ain't broke, break it!'' too many times to give free rein to these dark thoughts. So, we bade a fond farewell to these pioneers.

Now, of course, some are returning to their former employers, in what at least one magazine – Business 2.0 – is calling the ''boomerang'' effect. And they are being welcomed back, like the prodigal son in the Bible. ''It's an extraordinary departure from the days when returning employees were dubbed black sheep, ungrateful, bad examples who were hazed upon return and sent to the bottom of the corporate ladder,'' writes the author of the article.

Apparently, a poll last year found 71 percent of 592 employers surveyed say they would cautiously take back ex-employees. An additional 21 percent say the company always welcomes back boomerangs because it saves time and money. By 2003, 60 percent of midsize to large companies will routinely rehire employees to slash recruitment and training time, according to research consultancy Gartner Group.

''The firm's advice? Don't take any departure personally. Loyalty is dead.''

That being the case, now might be the time to learn how to throw a boomerang, just in case you have the urge to try your hand at something new. Here's what Business 2.0 recommends:

First and foremost, keep in close contact with their old employers and colleagues. Then,

• Know what you are entitled to. Find out if your company has a policy on benefits for returning employees. Some companies give boomerangs the same vacation time accrued at the time they left. This often depends on how long you were at your old job and the generosity of the employer.

• Be upfront. If you want a promotion or a new job at your old company, negotiate by playing up the skills you acquired while you were gone.

• Have a good reason. Make sure you know why you're returning. ''Because I need a job'' isn't good enough. Those who are welcomed back typically tell their employer that they missed the people and the culture of their old company.

• Put away the casual wear. The Converse sneakers and jeans you wore on the job before you left won't cut it now, when the competition is meaner and the job market leaner. Yes, that means a tie!

• Keep your story straight. Don't tell one manager during an interview that you were dumb to leave and try to score big on an IPO and another manager at the same company that you wanted to gain Internet experience.