Previous employees

Nov 13, 2017

Depending on why they left – and what they did while they were gone – it might be a good idea to welcome them back into the fold.

It’s not uncommon when sorting through a pile of resumes to come across a familiar name. If a former employee applies for a position with the company they once left, is rehiring them a stroke of luck or a terrible mistake?

One of the biggest advantages to a previous employee is that they are a known commodity. You know their personality, work ethic, and skills. That knowledge goes both ways: They know the company’s procedures, culture, and goals. If a good fit for a rehire, they can offer significantly reduced retraining cost. But how do you decide if they are a good candidate? I offer you a criterion to evaluate.

  • What was their past performance? The single most important thing for you to consider is their previous track record. What was their performance while at your company? Did they bump along the bottom or continually exceed expectations? Did their co-workers enjoy working with them or did they sow workplace strife and frustration?
  • Why did they leave? The question is more nuanced than if they were fired. Did they quit because they were frustrated with the company? Those employees are poor choices for rehires; however, rehiring an employee who left due to a family situation, such as caring for an aging parent, can not only foster long-term loyalty with the rehired employee, but also raise morale of the rest of your staff, as they see the company values its employees.
  • What have they done in the meantime? Did they leave to pursue a degree or additional training? Rehiring an employee who has gained new skills and perspective, yet has insight into your company, is a strategic move; however, an employee who has had short stints at other organizations may be chronically unsatisfied.
  • Why are they applying now? Maybe you previously lacked growth opportunities, but have a new venture that they are an ideal candidate for. Be aware of employees who may be desperate and are turning to an old standby. Being a candidate’s backup choice does not set either of you up for a healthy relationship.

Cheryl Hyatt is a co-founder at Hyatt-Fennell. She has over 20 years of experience in executive search. She can be reached at

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