Can you go back to an employer you left years ago? And how?

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A recent survey by staffing firm Spherion found that one-third of workers surveyed had gone back to a previous employer.


As long as you didn’t burn any bridges at your former workplace, you
shouldn’t feel weird about returning to a previous employer.

In fact, being a “boomerang employee” — a worker who returns to a job after some time away — is becoming more common, a recent study by Spherion Staffing Services found.

Spherion’s online survey among 1,000 full- and part-time workers
reports that nearly one-third of U.S. workers have boomeranged at least
once in their career. An additional 41 percent of workers surveyed said
they would be open to returning to a former employer.

Local career consultants said Spherion’s findings were unsurprising.

Patricia Hunt Sinacole, founder of consulting firm First Beacon Group LLC
and a contributing writer for’s Job Docs column, said she’s
never seen a stigma attached to boomerang workers among her clients.

“I think it’s a great practice if the person had sort of a successful
run the first time,” Hunt Sinacole said. “They often know the culture,
the competition, and a little bit more about expectations and how
decisions are made, assuming they haven’t been gone for 45 years.”

Hunt Sinacole said many companies she works with actually prefer recruiting former employees.

“Often, my clients say,  ‘It takes so much time to get someone new up
and running,’” Hunt Sinacole said. “Hiring boomerang employees shortens
the orientation period.”

Elaine Varelas, a managing partner at career management firm Keystone Partners,
agreed, saying organizations have grown far more accepting of boomerang
workers, provided they maintained a good relationship with their former
employer. Varelas is also a contributing writer for’s Job
Docs column.

“The best thing you can do is leave well,” Varelas said. “Don’t
bad-mouth an organization on your way out the door. Don’t throw your
colleagues under the bus. Talk about the positive experiences you had in
that place and talk about the things you want to gain in your new

Even after you’ve left an employer, Varelas said you can continue
cultivating a positive relationship by sending talent or business their
way, if appropriate.

“Do everything you can to support the business efforts and activities
of the organization, and then you haven’t let anything negative fester
between that relationship,” Varelas added.

Despite the rise in boomerang workers, some employees are firm about permanently closing the door on former employers.

One in three workers Spherion surveyed reported they would not
consider going back to a previous company, deeming such a move either a
“step back” in their career or considering the company culture a bad

Still, with companies casting a wider net for talented workers, you
might want to think twice before sending that scathing “goodbye” email,
or tweeting out your dramatic exit from a job. As Hunt Sinacole pointed
out, “Sometimes, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”

Justine Hofherr covers the jobs beat for Writer. Bibliophile. Scone-baker.