Thursday, December 10, 2015

On The Job: More ‘Boomerangs’ Return to Old Jobs

Job Search Strategy

Job Search Strategy

By Julie Cohen, Professional Certified Coach

By Jaclyne Badal

15 October 2006

From The Wall Street Journal Sunday

(Copyright (c) 2006, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)

If you’re looking for a new job, don’t rule out companies where you worked before. They might be more interested than you would think.

Former employees, once spurned as damaged goods or disloyal, are increasingly getting a warm reception — or even a recruiting call — from many companies. The attitude shift is prompted by an unemployment rate that’s been below 5% all year, a shortage of skilled workers and the need to control labor costs in the face of globalization.

Managers have come to appreciate that returning employees generally require less training and are likely to get up to speed more quickly than a fresh hire. So-called boomerangs already know a company’s systems, policies and culture.

The odds of a good fit between the worker and job are also enhanced because current managers or other employees can usually vouch for the person’s past performance. “When you know a person and you know the caliber of their ethics, their personality and attitude, it’s invaluable,” says Daniel Solomons, chief executive at Hyrian, a Los Angeles recruiting firm.

The bottom line for job seekers: If you pine for a former employer, you can do something about it — and you don’t have to return with your tail between your legs. “This isn’t Mount Everest,” says Philadelphia career coach Julie Cohen. “This is feasible.”

Ms. Cohen says one benefit of being a boomerang is that you already have contacts within the company. Use them. Former co-workers can advise you of jobs before they’re available to the public — and give you the lowdown on the responsibilities and the people involved.

Sacramento career coach and author Kathy Sanborn advises people to make contact a few months before they’re ready to send in a resume. Ms. Sanborn suggests emailing an article that could help the boss address a business concern. A friendly call or even a lunch invitation to an acquaintance who’s in a position to lobby for you is also appropriate.

If it’s been a while since you were in touch, that first call or visit is an ideal time to catch up on what’s happening at the company and to relate a few experiences that show how you’ve developed. During the second contact, a couple of months later, you can fish for job openings or suggest you’d be interested in returning to the firm.

When you’re ready to apply, the experts suggest clearly explaining how you’re more valuable than you were when you jumped ship.

Matthew Whipple left accounting giant Ernst & Young in 1998 and returned this year. In the interim, he went to work for a smaller accounting firm that had a contract with the United Nations; he got promoted and moved to Geneva, Switzerland, for part of the term. He was called upon to manage large projects and work with government officials, and he learned new accounting skills.

Back at Ernst & Young, “I can draw on all those experiences now,” he says. houihuiovbj,hfcutxuysdtn

Mr. Whipple had stayed in touch with his colleagues and participated in Ernst & Young’s alumni program. The company has 32,000 registered alumni in the U.S. who participate in volunteer events, workshops and networking sessions. This year, 26% of the people Ernst & Young hired to be managers or above were boomerangs.

Boomerangs don’t always return from working somewhere else. Some had opted out of the work force because of illness or to manage family responsibilities.

Workers who are ready to return after an extended absence may find that old bosses are among the most receptive to their resumes, because the past relationship compensates for uncertainty about employment gaps.

Many of the usual guidelines for re-entering the work force still apply: You should consider refreshing your skills with a class or two and should join a professional association to build new contacts and learn the latest in industry news and terminology. But re-entering as a boomerang can make the transition easier.

Brad Sugars, who regularly hires boomerangs for his consulting firm, Action International, based in Las Vegas, says people shouldn’t hesitate to sell the boss on the quirky skills they learned while outside the work force.

Mr. Sugars personally spent three years at home with his kids. When he returned, he found he had more patience and understanding than ever before — two qualities that can help immensely on the job.

If an employer is inclined to hire you back, but seems skeptical about your ability to pick up where you left off, consider starting at a lower level, with the understanding that you’ll return to your old job or level if you pass a six-month or one-year review.

Negotiate that “onboarding” program the same way you negotiate salary and benefits, says Eva Har-Even, a coach with executive consulting firm WJM Associates, in New York.

But Ms. Har-Even also advises clients to avoid the temptation to idealize the past. Make an effort to recall the negatives as well as the positives of your time at that employer. And do some research to ensure the company and the work environment are still as good as you remember.

The more time has passed, the more things might have changed. “You can’t step into the same river twice,” Ms. Har-Even says.

The increasingly warm welcome for boomerangs also holds a message for anyone getting ready to quit a job: Even if you don’t think you would want to return, maintain your relationships and be courteous when you leave.

“It’s kind of like a date,” says Mr. Sugars of Action International. “The kiss goodnight is important.”

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