Boomerang Hiring? Be Careful – It’s a Risky 2024 Recruitment Strategy

What the data says, where the pitfalls are, and how to address damage from layoffs when hiring Boomerangs

Seeing good employees leave is tough, whether it’s through resignations or layoffs. Seeing good employees return through boomerang hiring, is ideal. Unfortunately, many of the layoffs we’ve seen recently were not handled with care. So the odds of getting those boomerang employees back when it’s time to ramp up hiring again are lower than some organizations may assume.

Keep reading for the data we uncovered on layoffs and rehiring, plus advice on how to promote a positive employer band and communicate transparently with candidates.   

What are boomerang employees?

Boomerang employees are individuals who leave a company for some time but later return to work for the same organization again. Perhaps other opportunities were not a good fit or they are enticed by the company’s new direction. Sometimes it’s through an acquisition or merger, or a former employee is purposefully recruited to lead a new project or vertical. 

Hired predicts boomerang hiring of laid-off workers is an unreliable 2024 recruitment strategy.

In late 2023, Hired surveyed 1000+ tech workers and 250+ tech employers. More than 50% plan to increase their headcount budget in 2024. 

While 68% of tech employers say they’d feel confident re-hiring employees laid off from their companies, only 15% of currently unemployed tech workers say they “would definitely accept” a job offer from an employer who’d laid them off. That’s a pretty low number for people likely looking for work.

Data also showed that 36% of laid-off unemployed tech workers would decline a job offer from the company that released them. Meanwhile, 44% said they would accept. (The rest are undecided).

Those currently employed are less forgiving. The survey revealed that 46% of laid-off employed tech workers would decline a job offer from their former company while only 27% said they would accept.

Related: Cost of Vacancy: Why Hiring During Downturns is a Good Idea 

Hired’s CEO on companies planning on boomerang hiring

In a recent Talk Talent to Me episode, Hired CEO Josh Brenner discussed layoffs and companies pursuing boomerang employees. He says, “There are a lot of benefits to boomerang hiring of employees. They’re vetted in the sense that you’ve already made the decision once to hire them. They clearly have a value fit with the company and were a strong contributor to the team. There’s obviously a lot less ramping up needed to get them back into the company. 

I understand why companies would be excited about having people back. I know a lot of companies across the board had to make extremely tough decisions when making these cuts.”

Even so, Josh explains how trust is a key connection talent has to companies. Josh believes the companies that handled layoffs with care will “have a much easier time hiring those boomerangs back. They live the values they talk about as a company.” 

Related: 2023 List of Top Employers Winning Tech Talent

However, he’s observed more often than not that employers did not do right by employees when making job cuts. “The companies that handled those layoffs poorly will have a very small chance of getting any of those employees back. 

They have their challenges cut out for them. Not only are they not going to be able to get the boomerang employees back, but they really need to focus on their recruiting efforts.

Because those companies now have employer branding issues. People talk, use social media, and check company review sites like Glassdoor and Blind. Talent teams now have a hard job within those companies to rebuild trust with jobseekers.” 

Empathy in talent acquisition

Echoing Josh’s sentiment of being responsible when laying off employees, Interviewology founder Anna Papalia shared advice for TA teams in a past episode of Talk Talent to Me:

“[TA teams] also going through layoffs and at a moment’s notice could be on the other side of the table interviewing. And with that comes, I hope, a great deal of empathy. Asking themselves, ‘How am I treating candidates and applicants right now? How would I want to be treated if I was going through this process? 

Because looking for a job can be dehumanizing. It can feel so uncertain and it’s incredibly stressful. And as talent folks, we tend to forget the power we wield and just how difficult it is to be on the other side.”

Related: Your Guide to Build Sustainable Tech Talent Acquisition Strategy 

Boost success with employer branding 

In a tough market and amid the threat of layoffs, brand reputation may become fragile. So what can teams do to boost employer branding efforts and uphold a positive reputation? 

In Hired’s survey, “an emphasis on employer branding” was the top answer when we asked small and medium-sized employers what they planned to increase in their hiring strategy for 2024. Employers with 10K+ employees listed it second, behind (tie) “employee referral programs” and “offers of competitive compensation and benefits.” 

So, this is the time to showcase your company’s authenticity and how it lives its values. Hired supports employers by creating turnkey events to empower company recruitment efforts. 

Get your team in front of tech talent

Chase partnered with Hired to host a Virtual Candidate Event aiming to attract Backend, Frontend, and Cloud Engineers in the UK. The event proved to be a powerful way to promote the company’s brand and engineering culture. Within 24 hours, Chase invited 9 candidates on site! 

Reflecting on the event’s impact, TA Lead Mike Lewis said, “I thought it balanced really well between the tech story and how we are real people.” 

See how Hired helped Bark and Wayfair promote their tech teams to talent with similar Virtual Candidate Events.

Related: Looking for more employer branding ideas? Download 8 Ways to Hire Faster & Build a Better Employer Brand: TA Leaders Tell Us

A healthy pipeline benefits from a CRM

Bolster larger employer branding activations with regular communications to talent already engaged with your company. A CRM is a great way to manage this, and many these days have innovative features to help streamline your efforts. 

Teamable is one of our favorites here at Hired. They integrate with your ATS to keep records enriched and up-to-date based on publically available data and use AI to personalize automated messages at scale. Keeping past talent engaged will make it more effective to source from this pool for future hiring needs. 

Rebuild trust and communicate growth potential to candidates

In Hired’s survey, 41% of employers who’d had layoffs within the last two years agreed layoffs had hurt their company more than the economy. 

Communication is key to supporting a positive employer brand and fostering trust during layoffs. In a recent webinar, Bold Predictions & Benchmarks: Master Tech Hiring in 2024, Hired’s SVP of People Strategy, Sam Friedman explained how employers effectively communicate with candidates.

“Candidates are coming in with more research and more questions than ever before. Recruitment teams need to be prepared.”

Sam even recommends having some bullet points ready. “I always tell people not to give a wrong answer, just to give an answer. If you have to get back to someone, that’s okay. But you should be prepared for that question and you should prepare your interview teams as well.”

She explains it all comes down to being open and honest about the company’s health. “Why did this happen? Was it performance-based? Is it something around a miscalculation and strategy, or was it a pivot? Make sure there is consistent messaging and leadership visibility. 

Then, hopefully, you’ll be able to highlight financial stability. If you’re not at the financial stability, then perhaps it’s visibility into the strategic roadmap and how you’re going to get there. Make sure you are highlighting the industry or market environments as well.” 

Over 60% of tech workers surveyed by Hired said they plan to get a new job in 2024 due to concerns about the future of their role, team, or company. Are your top employees among them? Or, are you prepared to recruit them to your team?

Transparency and authenticity are your friends here. Hiring teams need to acknowledge the layoff, explain how the company is working through it, and share how it will move forward. It’s key to giving candidates confidence in the organization.

Source: Employer -


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