What to Do When Hiring Former Employees

Consider this scenario: Sara left to start her own company after working for you as a customer service rep two years ago. John was a good sales person before jumping to your competitor for a larger commission. Why would you consider rehiring them … ?

… Because circumstances change. Great talent is in high demand and difficult to find. Former employees who want to work for you again show that your company can be a great place to work. Former employees bring a broader work experience that can be invaluable to attracting and keeping customers, building new systems, and updating policies. But even though rehiring employees may sound like an automatic win-win-win situation, clarity is crucial. Remember, they had a reason for leaving.  It’s important for you to follow the same selection procedures for new hires to uncover those reasons, or the same or similar upsets could arise again.

Clarity Is Crucial

Memories are Not Reliable. The biggest challenge is learning about who your former employees are today — their interests, goals and mindsets may have changed. Part of the interview process should include discussing why they left in the first place and any cultural, procedural and customer changes that have occurred since then. What are the biggest challenges your company is facing today? How would they be an asset?  Drill down for clarity to ensure both of you understand what it will take to execute the solutions required.

Truthfulness is Key. Use qualified assessments to clarify core values, like honesty and loyalty, and job fit. Include skill testing to determine the quality of the candidate’s technical abilities. Remember, they left for a reason – often they were not a good fit with all of the job requirements.  Review changes in work processes and job expectations to ensure they understand how important these are.

Onboarding is Important. Companies change. Although former employees may be able to hit the ground running with less training – it’s important to have them slow down to develop new relationships with other employees and customers. Remind them they need to prove themselves again and not rely on “the way things used to be.” Have them participate in an onboarding program as if they are a brand-new employee and suggest that they listen and behave as if they are hearing things for the first time.

Recruit Proactively. Initially, reach out to former employees by buying them a cup of coffee or a quick lunch. It’s a great way to gauge their career aspirations, now and in the near future. Share with them the mission of the company and your goals. Ask about their recent work experiences, and what their goals are. Give a brief overview of requirements (work schedule, job responsibilities, etc.) to test their interest.  If there is mutual interest, tell them how the selection process works. If they do not follow through, let them go. Clearly, there was a lack of willingness on their part, regardless of what they told you.

Hiring costs time and money. In the end, it may be easier to train a new person than to rehire an employee who cannot adapt to change. However, hiring former employees can be a win-win-win solution if there is clarity and willingness.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2016

Jeannette Seibly has been a business advisor and facilitator for over 23 years; she guides the creation of new solutions for business challenges and is the author of Hire Amazing Employees http://BizSavvyHire.com. Check out her website, http://SeibCo.com, or contact Jeannette for a free, confidential conversation at http://SeibCo.com/contact .

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