8 Things to Consider Before Boomeranging (Returning to a Former Employer)
This is 2018, and rarely does one work for the same company for 10, 20, 30 years. Therefore, it’s not uncommon to return to a former employer — a concept sometimes referred to as “boomeranging.” Based upon my recent boomerang experience, I have a few suggestions.
My story began when I left a really cool remote job working at a virtual CFO company to follow a dream of being self-employed. I gave up flexibility and freedom to do so. In the end, I discovered that being self-employed was not all it was cracked up to be. It didn’t work out for me, but I followed my dream. I have no regrets that I gave it a shot. I didn’t realize what I had until it was gone, and luckily for me, I was given another chance at that really cool remote job.
When you are considering boomeranging, it’s important to be completely honest with yourself and be sure you’re not just jumping back to a former company because it’s “comfortable.” You should also be aware that not every company is willing to give employees a second chance. Before you jump into an opportunity that may or may not make sense for your individual circumstances, you should consider several factors.
Eight Things to Consider Before Boomeranging
1. Is the company culture a good fit for your working style? Regardless of the money or benefits offered, if the company culture doesn’t mesh with your working style, it will not be a good situation for either you or the employer. As with most new jobs, you will probably be excited to be back for a while, only for that excitement to fizzle out as you remember why you may have left in the first place. Keep in mind that the tone of the company is set at the top. If the owners or high-level executives don’t lead by example, the company culture may be confused at best. Fortunately, my reason for leaving was not because of the company culture, so I was blessed in this regard.
2. Are you passionate about the work that the company does? If you are, that’s a good sign. If not, that’s not necessarily a negative, but it helps to be actively engaged at work. If you feel like a cog in a machine, you may be better off finding an opportunity that is engaging and satisfies you beyond the paycheck. Sometimes, this requires patience in waiting for a great opportunity instead of merely accepting a decent opportunity. If you are looking for a role that allows you to wake up and feel like you are making a difference in other people’s’ lives, and your former employer provided that feeling, then it may be worth going back.
3. Are you wanting to return only because a former coworker is out of the picture? With nearly any employment opportunity, there will be someone that you don’t particularly get on with all too well. There are different personalities and working styles, and getting along with others is part of life. If you think it will be different because one or two people are gone, just remember that someone else with the same personality and working style may appear later. Figuring out how to work with difficult personalities will benefit you in any work situation (because even self-employment means working with sometimes difficult customers.)
4. Consider what it would take for you to go to another company if an opportunity was presented. Would it take a small raise, a large raise, a better job title, better benefits? If a small incentive is all that is needed for you to leave again, it may not be the best fit for you. When looking at this, it may be helpful to think in terms of percentages instead of absolute dollars. For instance, is a 1% per year pay raise enough to make you willing to hop from one job to another? Have you considered annual raises and other benefits including intangible benefits such as flexibility in working hours? If the new company starts you off at a higher salary but only gives raises every three to five years (and this does happen even today), compensation in the long run may not be as lucrative as you initially thought.
5. Have you considered how things may have changed since you left? Numerous things could have changed, especially if you’ve been gone for some time. You need to be prepared to deal with the changes. There may be new coworkers, new software, upgrades to existing software, or new processes surrounding your role. This goes back to being comfortable; there may be some changes that you like and other changes that you don’t, and that’s okay. If you believe it’s best to return to the former company, you should do your best to embrace the changes so that you can grow with the company.
6. Are you rejoining the company in the same role or a new role? In my case, I joined the company in a new role. This had an impact on my return. If I returned to the same role, there would have been different considerations. In some ways, returning to the same role means that getting back into the swing of things would be easier. A new role may mean that you might have fewer expectations about how things may proceed, which means that you’re more flexible to change. Having an open mind is important in either case.
7. Have you given thought to your financial needs since you last worked for the company? This is related to number four above, but it’s more focused on what you need in order to be in good shape financially to work for the company. If you left because of a raise from another company, is it worth it to you to give up a job that you don’t enjoy for one that you do, even if a pay cut is necessary to make it happen? If you just started a family, you may rely on a higher salary to make ends meet. Before you seek to boomerang, you must have a clear picture of what your compensation needs to be in order to make the situation work in the long run. Keep in mind that base salary is not the sole factor when considering compensation. You should factor in time off, flexibility of your schedule, health benefits, retirement matching, and other benefits from your employer. It’s important to note that compensation should not be the only factor in your decision; for some individuals, it’s not even the primary factor. The last thing you want to do is accept a compensation package that is going to have you looking for work in six months. That won’t benefit you or your employer. Of course, with extra experience, you may even be offered a raise.
8. Does the move fit with your long-term career goals? Notice that I didn’t ask about short-terms goals. In some cases, giving up short-term benefits for something better in the long run is necessary. If you can meet both sets of goals at the same time, that’s even better. Some people want to be CEO at a major corporation, and others are content with being in middle management at the end of their career; neither is better than the other. You need to be clear on what your goals are for your career, including the environment that will allow your goals to be achieved. Once you have a good picture, you can work to transform those goals into reality. Some people feel more comfortable in a small business where they can interact with everyone at some point, and others don’t mind working in a company with thousands of coworkers that they will never meet. Some individuals want a seven-figure salary before they feel content; others are happy making five or six figures each year. You need to be realistic with your expectations and what your capabilities are. Because you’ve worked for the company in the past, you should have a good gauge on whether the company’s purpose and the work involved fit into your long-term plans. If the fit is not a good one, then why would you consider going back?
In summary, there are legitimate reasons for leaving a company and returning. If, after doing your homework, you still believe it is best to return to a former employer, you may decide it’s the right opportunity. If so, go for it. It may be one of the best decisions you will ever make. It’s worked out for me. I plan to make the most out of this opportunity because I don’t want to count on a third opportunity that may or may not exist.
Do you have any tips to share from your boomeranging experience?