Ask Matt: Should I go back to the company that laid me off?

  • Article by: MATT KRUMRIE
  • Updated: January 13, 2014 - 10:06 AM

Dear Matt: I was let go in a layoff three years ago, but now my former employer is hiring again. Do companies consider hiring employees let go during a layoff? Should I do anything differently when applying or reaching out to colleagues still at the company?

Matt says: Boomerang hiring — the rehiring of ex-employees — is making a comeback. And that certainly includes those let go in a layoff. “Employers are generally more than willing to hire back former employees, because those employees are already familiar with the corporate culture and have demonstrated that they can adapt and thrive within that environment,” says Jeff Shane, a spokesperson for Allison & Taylor (allisontaylor.com), a professional reference checking and employment verification company.

Many companies like to bring back employees who have moved on and learned new skills, perhaps furthered their education or simply can bring more value than when they were previously employed. This helps them get a better trained employee who already knows what to expect inside the organization.

Contact trusted colleagues that still work at the company to alert them of your interest. Ask them for direct contact information for someone in HR, and use that person as a referral when making a connection. You will still have to follow standard application processes, but your past employment and contacts can help you move to the top of the applicant list.

If things didn’t go well when you were let go, consider hiring a reference checking company that will work on your behalf to find out if you are eligible for rehire. Allison & Taylor conducts reference checks with former employers ($79 for a professional level report) and these results can help determine if the company will consider you eligible for rehire — something that could save you time (contacting colleagues who may not be able to help) and money (spending time on an opportunity that may not be there could delay another successful job search).

“HR is accustomed to having prospective employers call them vis à vis former employees,” says Shane. “When we call, the party we speak with will not know we’re working on behalf of an individual — their impression will be that we are working with a prospective employer of that individual.”

Your past salary with the company will likely be used as a baseline starting point. Point out that since you have acquired new skills and gained experience, it’s reasonable to seek a salary structure higher than you had previously. Be realistic, though. Remember this company did have to restructure, so be ready and willing to do more in this new role, possibly at the same salary as before. But if you know you will be happy and find career success, then it’s better than the alternative — still searching for a job.

Contact Matt at jobslink@startribune.com.

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