Should you hire ex-employees?

Hiring ex-employee or boomerang back into your company

Eleven News For employers, clean-energy, speciality chemicals...

​With a wealth of candidates now on the market post COVID-19, should employers hiring be looking at those that left the business previously – the boomerangs?

A poll conducted by the Bank of England found that, despite the easing of lockdown measures and millions of people in the UK returning to work, company financial officers were more pessimistic in June about the outlook for jobs than the month before – with unemployment predicted to surge to 3.5 million this year as a result of the pandemic.

Unemployment brings an increased number of people actively looking for jobs, increasing candidate pools across multiple industries. With a wealth of candidates now on the market, the chances of finding ‘the one’ increases. Whilst there is a vat of skilled and ideal candidates out there, you may be tempted to look at those who have previously worked in the business. We call them the “boomerangs”, and Eleven has welcomed many an ex-employee back into the fold to great success. See a case study on our most recent 'boomerang', Emma, below.

There are several advantages and disadvantages of hiring boomerang employees, and here we take a look at both sides of the coin.


  • Less unknown risk
    This works for both the employer and employee. The employer will know the candidates working style and will not run the risk of having expectations that are too high. On the other hand, the employee will understand what is expected of them and have familiarity with colleagues, the company’s culture, systems and processes. To put it simply, there will, hopefully, be no ‘surprises’ for either party.

  • Boost in team morale
    A returning employee can often be seen as a physical representation that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. This can give a real boost to team morale and evidence that the company they are working for is desirable.

  • Cheaper to hire
    Hiring an ex-employee can cut costs by up to 50% per hire, as the employee’s existing knowledge will reduce training time, leading to faster onboarding. This means that the candidate could reach their full productivity potentially much sooner than an applicant with no prior experience.

  • Additional skills and new perspectives
    Although boomerang employees will have prior knowledge of the processes and systems of the company, working elsewhere for a time may have taught them different or better ways of doing something. Bringing new skills and perspectives could help to improve efficiency – an attractive quality when time is money!


  • A better candidate may not be considered
    All of the benefits mentioned above may cloud the judgement of the hiring manager or recruiter and could result in a more well-suited candidate being overlooked for the position.

  • Their attitude may not have changed
    For an employee to leave a job in the first place, there must have been a reason that couldn’t be resolved. If this issue is still present, such as a grudge against a colleague that they didn’t get along with, or a part of the job that they were frustrated by, then the issue may raise its ugly head once more.
    One way to combat this is to start afresh with a returning employee. Being open and honest about past issues can help to wipe the slate clean. Leaving past issues behind will help everyone to further grow and succeed.

  • Lack of diversity
    Improving diversity in the workplace is an increasingly important focus for many companies. Last year, the McGregor-Smith review suggested that the underemployment rate for the black and minority ethnic (BME) population is higher (15.3%) than for white workers (11.5%) in the UK. Furthermore, the review showed that women are also still underrepresented in certain industries, and few women ever make it to top managerial positions. Market Inspector reported that last year, only 9.7% of executive positions in the FTSE 100 companies are held by women. Indeed, Eleven Recruitment works with clients to review and support their diversity and inclusion targets.
    Hiring a boomerang employee may bring much fewer unique qualities to the workplace than someone who is completely new to the industry, and this could mean taking steps backwards in terms of improving diversity in the workplace.

  • Looking for a pay rise
    A key factor for looking elsewhere for work often revolves around money, or potentially a lack of promotion opportunities which would usually result in higher pay. This may mean that a returning employee would expect higher pay for doing a role that is similar or the same as the role that they originally had.
    If that is the case, it would help to understand whether the benefits of reduced training needed, an existing knowledge of the company and role and ease of onboarding outweigh a salary increase.

    Weighing up all the pros and cons outlined above is a great way to decide whether a boomerang employee is the right choice for you. We hope this blog has given you a few pointers to start with.

    When hiring any new candidate, the usual interview questions will help to iron out some of the cons listed above. Of course, understanding why a candidate wants to return is key here.

    Nick Smith, Managing Director of Eleven Recruitment, said;

    “I used to always hold it as an article of faith that long staff tenure was the hallmark of a great business. I’ve now come to realise that having influential new blood in a business is a necessary complement to the old hands. Luckily, we were able to act on this theory this year, hiring five new team members who have successfully brought fresh outlooks to each desk within our business. Having a few boomerangs in the team also gives the best of both world. A fresh perspective along with a the benefit of experience.”

    “We have witnessed occasions where boomerangs have not worked out quite so well, with passions that took them away from the business originally once again being the stronger force. Employment is a two-way street however and having employees who are where they want to be is the recipe for success.”

    Case study – Eleven welcome back an ex-employee
    During a year of growth, in addition to hiring new staff, Eleven Recruitment also welcomed back former employee Emma Lees in March. Emma began her Eleven career in 2016, working on the busy fuels desk, recruiting for a wide range of positions in the fuel oil distribution and fuel card sectors.

    Emma commented on her enjoyment of the role; “I enjoyed learning about fuel and fuel cards, they were new products and industries for me and what immediately struck me was how friendly the professionals are who work in those niche sectors. They were a pleasure to speak to.”

    Emma left the then called Oil Recruitment on extremely good terms in July 2018 but was ‘delighted’ to be back at her desk in March 2020. “I felt as if I had never really left but realised I had missed the buzz of the recruitment industry. I am also very impressed with the company’s new website, loved the rebrand and the company strategies which involved focussing on top quality candidate and client service.”

    Emma continued: “Being away from Eleven made me realise what a good employer and company it is. The working environment is autonomous, you have an opportunity to do your best and be rewarded for it and the culture is very family orientated and flexible which means I can balance the demands of a busy home life with an interesting and challenging career.”

    Emma is currently a Business Development Consultant on our speciality chemical and lubricants niche desk. Albeit a completely new sector to Emma, she is learning the ropes quickly and enjoying relationship building with prospective clients in the global marketplace. “We have a very strong, experienced and talented team and I think our sector will continue to excel in the coming months,” Emma concluded.