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Boomerang Talent is Ripe for Recruiting

Boomerang Talent is Ripe for Recruiting

The worker’s market is alive and well, putting talent in the driver’s seat in this robust job market. While many employers are scrambling to attract and retain top talent, the often-unexpected population of boomerang and alumni talent is ripe for hiring.

[Related: ReCulture Your Workplace for Lasting Success and Satisfaction]

Boomerang and alumni employees.

Boomerang talent has worked in or applied to work in your organization in the past. Perhaps they applied for a role that was not a best-fit, or they were a runner-up for a role that went to someone else. This curated candidate pool of skilled professionals should be an active part of your recruiting strategy.

Alumni employees have worked in your organization, and in most cases, left to advance their career due to lack of growth opportunities from within. Some companies encourage their talent to leave to gain experience elsewhere and then return to be considered for more senior roles. The knowledge transfer and gained experience can make for excellent return-hires that already know the company culture and can hit the ground running.

Dan Schawbel, Managing Partner of Workplace Intelligence shared:

These ‘boomerang’ employees, as they’re called, accounted for 4.5% of all new hires in 2021 — up from 3.9% in 2019. Typically, these workers left their company under positive circumstances, but for various reasons they eventually decided to rejoin their organization. Some may have quit to fulfill caretaking duties but are no longer burdened by these. Others may have wanted to explore a different career path but found that it wasn’t the right fit for them.

Retired but not finished.

Another vibrant population to consider when recruiting is the recent retirees who may be craving intellectual stimulation after they have been out of the workforce for a period. While they may not want full-time roles, they might be enticed to serve in part-time, or flexible roles. They bring maturity, historical context, and experience to the table that is valuable.

Retired or former employees may also serve on a contract basis for specialized projects or consulting work. These 1099 employees don’t require the fringe benefits of a salaried employee and can often fill a need for short term expertise.

When developing a recruiting and succession plan strategy, organizations must be savvy about how they build a deep bench of talent. Professionals move around more frequently in this job market and if growth is not possible from within, they will seek advancement elsewhere. Having a diverse recruiting talent pool is essential.

[Related: Five Tips to Maximize the Impact of a Corporation’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategy]

Alumni colleagues for life.

Savvy global organizations like McKinsey, Deloitte, and Accenture have abundant resources dedicated to alumni employees knowing that they may become future clients or return workers. They have alumni news channels to celebrate alumni success, directories to share profiles and communicate, and special events and professional development opportunities to keep them in the fold. Career Services resources also allow access to posted opportunities and engagement with corporate recruiters.

Alumni leverage these services to make, sustain, and build upon the close professional relationships they started while at the firm and to develop their skills and careers. It makes great sense and creates a return talent pipeline that is priceless.

ROI and faster re-entry.

The benefits of alumni and boomerang talent are clear:

  • It costs less to recruit them. In most cases, they are a phone call or an email away and having a trusted colleague reach out will be as enticing as a paid recruiter and free.
  • New perspective. The time away from your company has given this talent pool a fresh outlook on the industry and desirable company culture. They may have even worked for a competitor and can share valuable insight.
  • Loyalty. If returning to your firm, there is a sense of loyalty and affinity to the organization, the colleagues, and the mission. Engagement matters, so capitalize on the people who want to work in your organization.
  • Lay of the land. Unless there have been massive changes since they left, alumni employees know your work culture, expectations, and company procedures and protocol. They re-onboard faster and can be more productive quicker.

Set a new first impression.

If you are alumni or boomerang talent considering a second act with an organization you know well, be strategic about re-introducing yourself when you go back into the organization. Make a fresh impression and create a professional brand that distinguishes you from your previous tenure with the firm. Give old and new colleagues an opportunity to understand your value-add and how you plan to make a positive impact.

[Related: Can Storytelling Make or Break an Innovation?]


Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Vice President of Career Coaching and Employer Connections for the Ivy Tech Community College system and contributes to Thrive Global, Ellevate Network, Medium, and The Chronicle newspaper in Indiana. Her online video series about career and life empowerment for women is on YouTube. She hosts the three-time award winning podcast, Your Working Life, on iTunes, Spotify, and SoundCloud. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter. Her TEDxWOMEN talk about reframing failure and defining success on your own terms is available on YouTube.

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