Unless you’ve stayed with one company the entire span of your professional career, you’re likely an alumni employee of at least one company. Everyone’s work history is uniquely their own experience. But what is less unique is that employees who leave and then come back can provide immense value to their former employers.
Whatever level of experience and wherever you are in your career, sometimes leaving a company may be the very catalyst to bring you back.
‘On the job’ essentials
Not every job you work at will give you prolific insights and experiences. Some offer an opportunity to learn the basics from your employers such as processing documents, creating expense reports, working in a team and following checklists. These experiences are the foundation on which successful employees are built on. While they are not monolithic moments, but rather the building blocks to success.
Learning what works
Not every job is a launchpad of amazingness that you’ll remember forever as a pivotal and transformational moment. Instead, experience creates a diversity of skills, practical experience of how to deliver (or not deliver) work and in many instances, helps guide you towards what you do and do not enjoy. Where you have strong skills and where those weak spots lie. Most importantly, these moments build your experience, sharpening your skill set to help propel you to your next part of your professional journey.
Experience is the best teacher
You can’t buy experience. Now more than ever, companies are recognizing that when you leave to pursue a new opportunity, it can be advantageous to all parties. When joining a new company, you meet new people, expand your network, learn new processes and new technologies, experience new cultures, and different ways of thinking. All assets you can bring back to your former employer, should you choose to return.
There are countless examples of notable people who have left their employers, only to return later in their careers and into very dynamic positions.
Notable boomerang employees
Adena Friedman- CEO of Nasdaq
Friedman got her start as an intern at Nasdaq. Climbing through the ranks, eventually becoming the CFO, she was presented with the opportunity to move on to another company, Carlyle, to pursue a different opportunity. Three years into the new role, Nasdaq offered her a different role, as President “I had the chance to go back to the risk-taking side of a business after five years in a risk management role, and I had the opportunity to stretch myself once again by taking on a large, complex P&L at a company for which I have true passion” she explained in a self-published article on LinkedIn.
Christ Olson- Head of Evangelism for Search at Microsoft
Christi started her career at Microsoft as a Lead Search Engine Marketing Product Manager. After spending five years with the company in 2011, she decided to spread her wings and join another company. Spending five years away from Microsoft, she began to notice a major shift within Microsoft and decided it might be a good opportunity to return. The revamping of employee reviews was a welcomed change for Olson. “It’s much more conversational,” she noted in an interview. Now, she’s able to focus on her career development with the support of her company.
Dean Lester- Engineering Director at Microsoft
Dean began his career at Microsoft back in 1996 as a Product Unit Manager, Games. Spending 13 years with the company, he was craving some time off and new challenges and decided to leave the company. It wasn’t until 2016 after he had received calls from former colleagues praising the culture change due to new management, that he thought about returning. In 2017 Lester rejoined the company as the engineering director. One of the biggest and most welcomed changes was the encouraged collaboration and conversations among colleagues. “These are not just permitted conversations now,” he said, “they are expected conversations,” he shared in a recent interview. After eight years away, Lester came back with new skills and insights to help improve the business.
If a stellar former employee knocks at your company door, welcome them with open arms. Odds are if they did great work for you, leaving likely sharpened their skill sets whilst working at another organization – which means they are coming back to you better than before. Their skills and experience outside your company may hold the very key to progressing your organization to the next level.
So next time you are considering a boomerang hire, remember, a returning employee can bring everything they learned back into your organization and should be embraced. The best employees and indeed people seek to continuously learn and improve, giving you a strategic advantage when you welcome them back into the fold.