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Jobs and Careers: Dejob Vu

When Thomas Wolfe wrote, “You can’t go home again,” he probably wasn’t talking about your old job. You know, the one that laid you off last year—or wait, maybe you can go back. A survey released last month that polled more than 900 unemployed workers revealed that 57 percent of workers who were laid off in the last six months had been re-hired by their former employers.

As economic conditions improve, companies often recall those workers who they were forced to lay off based on budget, not on performance. In fact, a survey conducted by Right Management showed nine out of 10 companies were open to rehiring laid off workers. It also showed 37 percent would rehire because an individual understood the job, while 33 percent looked at if the ex-employee understands the organization’s culture and 20 percent said it minimized the likelihood of a bad hire. Only 10 percent said it was not their policy to hire back former employees.


In a release issued in late 2009, Melvin Scales, senior vice president at Right Management, said, “Some employers are hiring back past employees because they realize they may have cut too deep with the last round of layoffs.” He noted some were being brought back on a contract or project basis. “Their ramp up time is minimal and they can start to make an impact almost immediately, given their prior experience with the organization.”

If it was a job you loved and got along with colleagues and management, then it might not be so bad to “boomerang back.” That’s why it’s especially important not to burn bridges or bad mouth an ex-employer. Still, it’s not always rosey for returning workers who sometimes feel resentment from the individuals who remained and have been doing double workloads. Companies should make universal decisions about benefits and seniority so that one returning worker does not have a different deal from another. And, the boomeranger should also make sure he or she isn’t harboring hurt feelings about being let go that ultimately are expressed through performance or attitude.

It’s tough to be in the difficult position of trying to decide whether to return to your old company or to test out a new opportunity. Do you look back at where you’ve been and what you know, or do you look ahead at what’s unknown and what could be? Both places have pros and cons.

Here are some guidelines for helping you to decide what works best for you:

• What is the current atmosphere at your old employer? Has morale sunk to a new low or has it remained optimistic or even improved?

• Are you coming back into the same role or is at a lower or higher level? How does this affect your pay, benefits and seniority levels?

• Have the circumstances that forced the original layoffs disappeared, or is there the likelihood of another layoff in your future? Be sure you aren’t being asked back because employees are fleeing and the business can’t plug their talent drain.

• Ask if you can actually re-interview with HR and whoever your new manager will be. Approach this like a first interview and not a re-hire. Ask the questions you want to have answered. Would you still want the job if everything that had happened in the last year had never occurred?

The people who seem to do best at boomeranging back are those that say “Yes” to a re-hire because they really want to be back in a job and company that they truly liked, not because they are desperate for work again.

Nancy Schuman is a vice president at Lloyd Staffing, headquartered in Melville, and is the author of eight how-to books on career guidance and job-search techniques. Lloyd Staffing offers temporary, contract and full-time employment services on a regional and national basis. Send your career-related questions to

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