Coming Home: 6 Lessons Boomerang Employees Can Learn From LeBron’s Return

Rehire Boomerang Employees

After four years and two NBA championships, LeBron James is coming home. The Northeast Ohio native is giving up the heat and glory of Miami for a return to his beloved Cleveland.

Of course, LeBron isn’t the only person who’s ever wondered if the welcome mat still sits outside a former employer’s door. The good news is that, for many professionals, it does. Hiring is picking up, and companies are having a hard time finding skilled talent. That means they’re more open than ever to bringing back boomerang employees.

As the Cavaliers prepare to re-integrate their hometown hero, here are six lessons a potential rehire can learn from LeBron:

1. Don’t burn your bridges

When LeBron left, many Clevelanders saw it as the ultimate cavalier move: Scorning the ones who gave you your first break for greater gain elsewhere. The lesson for boomerang employees? Always try to leave a job on a positive note. Also, stay in touch with coworkers and managers after leaving so you can keep the ties intact and remain up-to-date about changes at the company.

2. Put out a few feelers

Let former coworkers and managers know you’re interested in returning to see if suitable openings exist and to gauge their response. Their reactions alone may help you determine how feasible it is to return as a rehire.

Your conversations with them can also provide additional insight into the state of the company. You’ll want to know, for example, if the issues that caused you to leave have been addressed, or if new developments — a reshuffling of your old department, for instance — should send up red flags.

3. Remind them of your proven skills

Boomerang employees are known entities. A former employer may automatically lean in your direction because managers are already familiar with your strengths (and weaknesses), work ethic, and how you fit with the team. Pull out your last performance review so you can remind them of your skills and accomplishments.

4. Tell them what you’ve been up to

In your resume and cover letter, highlight how you’ve grown professionally during your time away. What skills have you developed? What experience did you gain? Did you earn a new certification? The advances you’ve made — and the unique perspectives gained from your outside work experience — could help you make the case that you’d be even more valuable the second time around.

5. Prepare thoughtful answers

Going back to a previous employer could raise some awkward questions. In the rehire interview, you may need to admit a mistake or diplomatically express disappointment with your current position. Boomerang employees should carefully craft responses that demonstrate why they and the former employer are an ideal match again.

6. Show you’re eager

Keep in mind that a previous employer will have one big question in mind if they rehire you: Will this person stick around this time? LeBron explained in his Sports Illustrated article that his “relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball.” Use your rehire interview and networking connections to let people know how motivated you are to come back for good.

Becoming a boomerang employee isn’t for everyone, and you shouldn’t settle on the rehire route just because you’re familiar with the firm. But it’s an option worth considering, especially if you’ve hit a patch of bad luck in your job search. Keep the lessons from LeBron in mind to help make the right decision.

Have you ever been a boomerang employee? What was your experience like? What lessons would you share with others?