In 2012, I followed Boris Epstein, the co-founder of Binc, into the conference room of our current client for my exit interview with the company that had given me my first “real” job after college. Years of dealing with uncertain candidates helped Boris to sense my trepidation. I was sad to be doing my exit interview, not least of all because it meant I would be packing up my life and moving across the country for the foreseeable future. I was leaving to pursue a Ph.D. in history in my dream program, motivated by a long-time goal of becoming a tenured American history professor. He asked me if I was really sure that leaving recruiting was the right choice. Honestly, I could not say with complete certainty that it was.
As I ended the interview, I remember our last exchange vividly. I told him that if I ever changed my mind, my first call would be to Binc. He smiled and replied that he would be waiting. Three years later when I realized that my passion was working with and mentoring people instead of research, I kept my word. And so did Boris and Binc.
I thought I was somehow unique in coming back to my previous employer, but as it turns out, I am part of a rapidly growing trend. I may have avoided being one of the many Millennials who comprise the so-called “Boomerang Generation” by having to move back in with parents after college and in-between jobs, but I did not avoid all “boomerang” metaphors.
I am a “Boomerang Employee.” In fact, since I returned late last year, Binc has had three of its other former employees (and my fabulous colleagues) also come back. In a company that totals 38 employees, four boomerangers is no small number. This, however, is not unique to Binc. Boomerang Employees are part of a rapidly growing trend.
Workplace Trends released a study in September 2015 that detailed the rise of “Boomerang Employees” in the hiring pool. A “Boomerang Employee” is exactly what it sounds like: an employee who once left a company and is now hoping to come back. Per the study, employers are not only seeing a growing trend of “Boomerang Employees,” but they are also becoming increasingly more open to welcoming back ex-employees into the fold. Half of the 1600 HR professionals surveyed stated that their organizations used to have a policy explicitly forbidding the rehiring of employees. A full 76% now say that they are significantly more open to hiring back ex-employees than before, and two-thirds of the managers interviewed in the study concur with this statement. Nearly one-in-two Millennials, who are already the largest quantity of today’s workers, said that they would consider going back to a previous employer. Previous generations may not consider boomeranging back at this high of a rate, but a third of Gen Xers and nearly 30% percent of Baby Boomers agree that they would be open to returning to a previous employer. Overall, 85% of HR professionals surveyed said that they had received an application from a previous employee over the past five years. Just as importantly, boomerang employees are getting jobs at significantly higher rates than new applicants—40% of the professionals surveyed said that they hired boomerang employees at a rate of one in two. As any recruiter can attest, this is a much higher candidate close ratio than what we normally experience in the recruiting funnel.
In many ways, it makes sense to hire back ex-employees who left on good terms. The company already knows that the person they are rehiring understands the company culture and works well with the team. The “we made a mistake” hire that costs companies time and money is less likely to occur when employing someone the company already knows.
So, why are former employees boomeranging back? There isn’t a definitive explanation, but I can offer my reasons for coming back. It starts and ends with culture, or what we at Binc refer to as our core “Binc values.” Bincers value commitment, humility, teamwork, intelligence, and growth. All of these values work bilaterally—both employees and management embody these. The two core “Binc values” that resonate most with me are teamwork and intelligence, but I want to touch briefly on commitment, humility, and growth.
Binc showed its commitment to me as an employee even though I was pursuing a path that would lead me away from the company. I was not fired or reprimanded for doing this openly. Instead, management worked with me during the transition and even recognized my growth by promoting me as I was applying to graduate school. This value made it easy to keep my promise. I refused to interview with any other company upon leaving my Ph.D. program, and I am thrilled I never had to look elsewhere.
Humility is something we all struggle with, especially as recruiters. It can be easy to pound our chests and declare ourselves amazing when our candidates sign on the dotted line. I am grateful to work in a company that values employees who admit to not knowing the path forward at all times. In return, I see my colleagues and managers acknowledge when they do not know something as well as me and seek my advice in return. It is wonderful to be part of an organization that encourages learning, and in return, teaching.
At Binc, our core mission is to help companies scale at the pace they need, whether that is 70 hires over five months or five hires over three months. We are also committed to the growth of Binc as a company, and more importantly, to the growth of each individual Bincer. I have a one-on-one with one of my managers weekly, and stay in touch with my other manager as well as colleagues, both more and less senior than me, daily. Each win is a learning opportunity; each loss even more so.
Teamwork may be my favorite Binc value of all. I get to work in a place where my coworkers are my colleagues, friends, and confidants. They all celebrate when I make a hire, commiserate when I lose a candidate, and vice versa. Our constantly changing projects and project teams mean that not only do I never get bored with my work, but that I also get to solidify new relationships every few months, all while sustaining the ones I already made.The benefit of boomeranging back to Binc further meant that I got the chance to meet many new wonderful people who joined the company after me. Because it was my favorite (then former) colleagues who had helped to hire them in my absence, I was able to fit seamlessly back in. The saying may go that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, but I am happy to say that at Binc, the friend of my friend is, well, my friend.
Intelligence is one of those keywords that everyone endeavors to embody. What is beautiful about intelligence is that it’s not limited to one definition. Similarly, there is no one definition of intelligence at Binc--there never has been. I am friends with people who I consider to be the smartest in the recruiting business. Some are phenomenal closers. Others have a killer sourcing instinct. Still, others are more organized than bees building a colony. What’s even more exciting, however, is that these skills do not define us. We have amazing singers, dancers, drummers, video gamers, science fiction nerds, and Harry Potter fanatics. Intelligence at Binc runs the gamut, just as intelligence varies in real life. I love that I was valued for who I was my first time around, and I love that I am valued for who I have become since then during my second turn.
Ultimately, I can summarize why I returned to Binc in one word: family. Our values promote a strong sense of interconnectedness, engagement, and mission. We all work towards the same goals and help each other grow And yes, we also tease, yell, and support one another more than a family gathered at a Thanksgiving table. If home is where your family is, then your work home is where your work family lives. And that’s worth boomeranging back to anytime.