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Is Now The Time To Re-Hire A Former Employee?

With uncertainty and instability rumbling through the economy - citing financial security in their current role as the primary motivator for staying. As we enter this new era in our post COVID world, we look back at where we were just over a year ago. For parking, we were initially hit dramatically as we lost significant curb space to restaurants, commuting disappeared and thriving cities became ghost towns. Back then, the talent landscape was much different and driven by candidates in the Great Resignation and Great Reshuffle.

In today’s economy, some industries remain healthy while others impacted by rising interest rates, financial collapses and inflation are struggling to survive. Even if a candidate works in an industry or sector, such as parking, that remains relatively unaffected by these factors - the overall fear of uncertainty and general economic outlook will prevent most candidates from considering a career move. But, for those companies that remain isolated from economic collateral damage who still need to make key hires, where do you find strong talent that is willing to make a move and will have strategic impact quickly? The answer may be as simple as looking to the past.

The Latest “Great”… The Great Regret.

During the Great Resignation and Great Reshuffle we saw a complete shift from an employer driven hiring market to a candidate controlled market with salary, remote work and an emphasis on wellbeing and balance remaining top of the list. This meant job hopping became the “new normal” where every 6 to 9 months candidates would chase the bigger better career opportunity placed in front of them. Today, things have changed and these “Hoppers” face a much different hiring climate, as we enter into the era of “Great Regret,” where candidates find themselves longing for key benefits, cultural values and more they regret leaving behind when they parted ways with a former employer.

Back then, during the Great Reshuffle companies in parking were desperately trying to simply fill a role just to get the work done. Today, companies are being incredibly strategic and purposeful in their talent acquisition and recruitment process. By emphasizing and focusing on key, high-quality talent and hires, companies would rather leave a position open for much longer to find the best fit candidate instead of filling the position quickly. As an executive recruiter I am seeing this manifest in many different ways - but the most interesting trend has been a rise in the rehiring of former talent and employees - or Boomerang Talent.

During times of economic uncertainty, Boomerang Talent is a wildly untapped resource for organizations, especially in the parking industry. In the past few years, there are a number of different reasons why great talent and a company may have parted ways including:

  • COVID-induced layoffs

  • Pursuing a higher salary during the Great Reshuffle

  • Remote work offered by a competitor

  • Unforeseeable growth to their career path exacerbated by the Great Resignation

  • Employee burnout in the era of Quiet Quitting

What I like to tell companies is that not all separations are permanent. The situation that you and an employee faced years ago has likely changed and with many Candidates feeling the pull of the Great Regret, now is a great time to bring some of that talent back into the workplace for a second chance.

The Untapped Potential Of Boomerang Talent.

Let’s face it, unanticipated departures can be uncomfortable for both companies and candidates for a while after it happens, but eventually both move past it after a few years. In some cases, terminating an employee was entirely circumstantial (COVID layoffs are an example of this) where neither employee nor company wanted to part ways, but both really had no choice. Several years later, this group of talent has learned a considerable amount by working under different leadership styles, learning from new experiences, collaborating with new teams, developing new skill sets and growing from all of these opportunities. In addition to all of this development, there are some other key benefits to consider when thinking about hiring back any past employees to fill a highly specialized key role including:

  • Can they reinvigorate teams that they left behind previously?

  • What have they learned in the last few years that the company can leverage?

  • Do they have a clear career path ahead of them now?

  • Did they actively avoid working for any direct competitors?

  • Do they still have loyalty to your company, team and brand all of these years later?

Look At Why The Employer-Employee Relationship Ended Initially.

Yes, not all departures are amicable or even agreeable and parting ways is mutually beneficial for both candidate and company. But not every departure is black and white and having a deeper understanding around these circumstances is critical. Before considering hiring back any talent, gather some insight and feedback internally by holding conversations with management and leadership that managed a specific former employee. Get to the foundational root of the candidate’s departure, and use this information to predict success, tenure and fit for rehiring a candidate.

On the Candidate side, gauging their interest in returning and overall perception of the original termination situation can be complicated. The best way to confidentially gather this information is through an external recruiter. An external recruiter or search firm can build trust with the candidate to get direct and honest feedback and use these insights to determine whether a return would be a good fit and beneficial for both sides. A great recruiter will be able to:

  • Understand your company values and culture and align these with the candidate’s

  • Interpret a former employee’s career moves since departing to gain a complete picture of their journey and their loyalty to your company

  • Engage with other industry professionals close to the candidate to gain deeper insights

Lessons Learned - Recruit To Retain.

In a typical hiring and recruitment process, the biggest concern recruiters will emphasize is cultural fit between company and candidate. In a case where you are exploring Boomerang Talent in the pipeline, you’ve already done this due-diligence in the past and established that there is a good fit. The biggest challenge of rehiring a former employee is understanding and learning what good retention looks like, how they have evolved, and how you can meet their needs today. Look at specific reasons, if any, why a candidate left initially. For example it could have been a poor manager that no longer works there, no clear career progression, limited support or resources or even missing benefits and perks, like remote work. Take all of these into consideration to build a strong onboarding, reporting and retention plan that ensures this rehire is set up for success.

While Boomerang Talent is an incredibly powerful talent pool and the Great Regret is driving candidates to revisit opportunities with former employers, the biggest challenge companies will face is this. They must be able to demonstrate to a former employee that his/her/their voice, concerns and needs are met in a way that the company was unable to meet before.

If you enjoyed this article - I will be presenting on "Recruiting To Retain: The Talent Story" at the 2023 IPMI Parking & Mobility Conference & Expo in Fort Worth, TX. Register here and be sure to add my session to your calendar to make sure you get a seat.

Recruiting To Retain: The Talent Story

Monday 12 June 2023

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm CDT

Room: 202A

Fort Worth Convention Center

Fort Worth, TX

About The Author

Kathleen Laney is the founder of Laney Solutions, the preferred solution for recruitment within the parking industry. Her goal in establishing Laney Solutions was to provide high-quality executive recruitment to an under-served industry. And by having a narrow focus, she has developed exceptional parking industry expertise in a short period of time. Over the past seven years, she has earned trusted advisor status with parking leaders around the world through careful relationship building, superior client and candidate service, and relentless dedication to results. Today, Kathleen is a leading industry voice on the future of the parking professional, and has spoken and written extensively on the topic through industry associations and publications. In 2016, she was recognized with NPA's Top 40 Under 40 award and is a former Board Member of the Women in Parking Association.

Contact Kathleen at


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