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Boomerang employees: 5 reasons to consider returning to a former employer

10.02.2017

Who says you can’t go home? According to a survey by Workplace Trends, almost half of millennials surveyed and one-third of both Generation Xers and baby boomers said they would consider returning to a former employer. That is evidence of the growing career trend of being a “boomerang” employee, or someone that works at an organization, leaves to work somewhere else and eventually returns to their former employer.

On the hiring side, 76 percent of HR professionals said that they are more accepting of hiring boomerang employees than in the past. In a recent Business Insider article, Brendan Browne, vice president of global talent acquisition at LinkedIn, writes that “boomerangs can be exceptionally valuable to a company's growth because they're already familiar with its culture.” He adds that “boomerangs that have been away for a few years also have direct business value, as they bring with them new experiences, connections, points-of-view, and even potential customers.”

At Brown Smith Wallace, our own managing partner Tony Caleca was a boomerang. After starting his career at the firm as an intern, Caleca left to gain experience outside of professional services for a little over a year before returning to the firm. Two years ago, he became the firm’s third managing partner.

From cultural fits to professional development and growth possibilities, reasons for career changes differ for each individual. Here are some reasons to consider returning to a former employer based on personal experiences from employees at Brown Smith Wallace.

1. You miss the people and the culture. Tax senior Michelle Medvick left to work in industry and returned six months later, partially because she missed the culture and people. “When you worked for a firm where the people you work with are like family and leave for jobs where you don’t see the camaraderie and the family culture, it is hard to want to stay. It was very apparent to me that I had worked for a company that truly stood behind their word when they said that they had flexibility and that family comes first.”

2. You no longer wonder “what if.” For transaction advisory manager Jason Buhlinger, he left because he did not want a “what if” nagging him in the back of his mind. After working for nearly nine years, Buhlinger decided he needed to know what it was like in the corporate world before he could decide his long-term path. “I feel like my business acumen has increased and I feel much more comfortable in my own shoes now that I’ve seen what life is like elsewhere.” He returned because of the work and the people. “At the end of the day you have to do what you like with people you enjoy being around.”

3. Job opportunities arise that were not there before. Clayton Roll, a former intern in the marketing department, left at the end of his internship because a full-time position was not available. One year later, a position opened up. “I heard about the opportunity, and even though I had only been working at my job for a short time, I didn’t want to miss the chance to come back. While I was an intern, I learned a lot, the people were amazing and the work was very fulfilling.”

4. You miss the type of work you were doing. When insurance principal Todd Goldenhersh left, he was curious what it would be like to work in industry and felt that if he was going to make a move to experience what industry had to offer over professional services, he should do it soon. “Within a few months of leaving public accounting, I missed it. I missed the people I interacted with daily. I missed the changing client interactions. I missed being a helpful resource to clients and colleagues.”

5. You left things with an open door. Medvick was admittedly nervous when she made the call to her former supervisors, however “that nervousness didn’t take long to subside.” “I knew within minutes into my phone call that this was the best decision I had made in six months,” she says. Goldenhersh experienced a similar openness and long-term relationship. “I always felt like I had a home at Brown Smith Wallace, no matter where I went,” he says.

Ultimately, whether it makes sense to boomerang is unique to the individual and the circumstances. Keep in touch with former colleagues and connections; you never know where they might lead you.

Brown Smith Wallace alumni can sign up for the firm’s alumni mailing list at brownsmithwallace.com to stay up-to-date on firm events, news, resources and new opportunities.

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