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Glossary: HR & Recruiting Definitions

What is a boomerang employee?

A boomerang employee is a worker who leaves their job at a company (whether for professional or personal reasons) but returns after a time to be rehired by the same employer.

Boomerang employee definition

Boomerang employees are rehired workers that once left a company but after a time returned to that same company. This can be short-term, for just a few months, or longer term for several years. In general, boomerang employees originally left their job on good terms with the employer.

Their leaving could be for either professional or personal reasons, and either the employee or the employer may have initially decided to end the employment. Equally, both the employer or the employee may be the first to express interest in rehiring the employee.

Why do boomerang employees leave (and come back)?

There are several reasons why an employee may decide to temporarily leave their position.

The most common reasons are:

  • To pursue a different career path in a different industry and/or position
  • To learn new skills, ways of working, or grow in a way that the current employer can’t (or won’t) offer
  • To receive a higher salary than the current employer can or is willing to pay
  • For personal reasons, such as having a child or dealing with a long-term illness
  • To take a sabbatical or just have some personal time off

Note that in the case of a boomerang employee the employment contract is ended. This makes it different from statutory parental leave or a sabbatical where the employment contract remains in effect for the duration of the time off.

Further note that, although less common, it can happen that the boomerang employee was originally let go by the employer. For example, a company may be forced to let an employee go due to forced downsizing, but decide to rehire the worker as soon as the company’s finances have bounced back.

As soon as the employee decides to return to the company—whether after six months or five years, in the same role or a different one—they become a boomerang employee.

Rehiring a boomerang employee

The fact that the employer and employee already know each other may help smoothen and shorten the hiring process. But that’s not the only upside to considering a boomerang employee. And equally, there are also some potential downsides to consider.

So should you consider rehiring an employee?

For a more in-depth look at the pros and cons (and tips on how to adapt your hiring process when rehiring) please have a look at our separate guide: Hiring boomerang employees: The pros and cons.

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