What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a “boomerang employee”?

Elaine Varelas advises on important things to consider when making the decision to return to a company that you used to work for.

Q.  I left my old firm a few months ago needing a change, advancement opportunities, and most importantly, more money. Unfortunately, my new role is far more demanding than I had anticipated and requires last minute travel which doesn’t work for my family. A new opportunity has opened at my old company, and I am tempted to apply but am unsure if it is a smart career move to go crawling back asking for a job.

A.  The reasons you chose to leave your old firm make sense. Advancement opportunities, more money, and something new. Unfortunately, your new job opportunity turned out to be significantly different than what you had hoped for. You describe the potential of going back to your company as “crawling back” when it may not be that way at all. The concept of a boomerang employee means you aren’t alone in thinking about returning to your former employer. The big question is, what was the relationship with your company when you left and did you leave on good terms? Was it a positive relationship? Did they appreciate your reasons for leaving? Did you provide adequate notice and leave professionally? If so, calling your old manager about this new role would be something that would probably be welcomed.

The plus side of being a boomerang employee is that you start to add value immediately. You already know a lot about the company and its culture and processes. Also, there are no costs associated with recruiting, there is no onboarding and little training required, and you can quickly relate to former colleagues who you already have established working relationships with. However, one of the things you do need to recognize and keep in mind is that this is a new opportunity. Be sure that you are clear about their expectations for the job, your behavior, and responsibilities. And make sure that you see this as an opportunity for professional growth and development.

A disadvantage of being a “boomerang employee” is that if your company does hire you back, they may be concerned you will leave again. It’s important to communicate clearly with them and let them know the reasons why you left, what it is that you're hoping for in the new opportunity, and how this situation would be different. Before you return, make sure that salary issues and whether service will be considered interrupted or not for any impact on vacation, retirement, or other financial benefits.

As far as your resume and track record are concerned, no one will question your returning to your old employer if you have a good explanation as to why you decided to make these changes. The fact that a former employer would be willing to rehire you is also very positive, because it shows that you don't burn bridges, and you know how to maintain long-term professional relationships. It’s important to take the time to consider both the advantages and disadvantages of rejoining a company. If you do end up returning, good luck with your new role and growing professionally.