You are not alone if you found that you were amongst the 47 million American workers who left the workforce in 2021, which has been coined, The Great Resignation. The stress of the ever-changing pandemic protocol in workplaces, a shift to working from home while school aged children were also at home with many parents assisting in daily schoolwork while ensuring that their children were staying focused with the challenge of online learning made for very exhausting days. With all the pressure and stress of the pandemic, it is not surprising that many employees threw their hands up and joined the masses, declaring, “It just isn’t worth it!”
It is also not surprising that as we ease out of the pandemic and global restrictions are lifted, many of those who left the workplace are now feeling regret, including seriously considering boomeranging back to their former place of employment. But, before making what may be a knee-jerk reaction to returning to your former place of employment, it is important to really understand if becoming a boomerang employee is the right move for you, how to boomerang, what steps to take if boomeranging isn’t the right fit, and the challenges that middle-aged employees face when looking for employment.
Is Boomeranging The Right Move For You?
Here are a few questions to consider before sending that email to your former boss:
1. What was the primary reason for leaving your job?
Be honest with yourself. Take a moment to sit still, close your eyes, and imagine that point in time when you decide to leave your job. What are the feelings that come up? Were you happy with the work you were doing before you decided to leave? What were the things that you loved about your job? What were the things that you disliked about your job?
2. Was the primary reason for leaving your job pandemic related and if so, do those restrictions or issues still exist?
Many employers required their employees to follow strict pandemic protocol that made the workplace very different than it was pre-pandemic. It is possible that the old workplace that you loved is back, with much of the pandemic specific protocol being lifted. If this is the case, boomeranging could very well be the right move for you!
3. Is there room for growth and advancement?
Is this a job worth going back to? Picture yourself at this place of employment 5 years from now. Is this an employment situation that allows the professional growth and advancement that you hope to achieve? When you think about staying with the employer for another 5 years, does it bring a smile to your face or do you physically feel your gut clinch from anxiety.
4. Are you able to suggest changes to your prior work duties that would enhance the position for both yourself and your employer?
Now that you have been away from the workplace for a while, are there changes to your prior position that you can suggest that you think your employer will be open to discuss? Is there a way to negotiate changes to your prior position that will benefit both you and your employer? This moves us into our next line of discussion, how to build back trust with your former employer.
You Want To Boomerang, Now What – Where Is The Trust?
When a relationship ends, whether it be a friendship, a romantic relationship, or a professional relationship – even if it ends amicably, trust is lost. Employers may feel betrayed by the employee who joined the masses and quit their jobs during The Great Resignation, especially if the employee was a long-term employee whom the employer counted on. Therefore, it is important that the employee who is attempting to boomerang back to his or her former place of employment look at their return from the employer’s point of view. Help rebuild trust between you and your former employer with these actions.
1. Acknowledge the elephant in the room.
Admit that you realize that you need to earn back the employer’s trust and that it will take time, but it is something you are committed to because you value the relationship and the opportunity to prove yourself.
2. Share what you learned about yourself as an employee and your reflections about your position during the time you were gone.
Provide a narrative that shows that the time you spent away from your former place of employment was used to develop your professional skills and to obtain a clearer understanding of the role you play in supporting the success of the employer. Share your insights. A thoughtful discussion like this can change the energy around the time that you were away as a time of growth that benefits your employer instead of a time that took away from productivity.
3. Outline your 5-year plan.
Show the employer that you intend to stay for the long run by having a 5-year plan ready to share. Focus on the side-by-side growth that can happen when you and your employer work together. Get the employer excited about a future together by showing your dedication to a future together.
4. Have a response ready for the question, “What if another pandemic hits?”
Explain that you understand that this was the first experience of a global state of emergency for both the employer and for you. Let the employer know that you’ve learned from your responses and understand how you could respond better in the future. Give examples. One of the examples could be better communication that would allow for a collaborative working solution.
5. Share the cost and time saving benefits for the employer.
Emphasize that you could start immediately without a costly investment that comes with hiring and training a new employee.
You’ve Decided To Ditch The Boomerang And Seek Out A New Employer
Many people will find that seeking a position with a new employer or even moving to a new field of employment is the right move at this time. Leaving a comfortable place of employment is often the biggest hurdle to moving towards something new, and you’ve already taken that giant leap. You will find yourself now competing with other job seekers who are in nearly the same boat as you after jumping ship during The Great Resignation, so preparation for your next job interview is more important than ever. Make sure that you metaphorically stand a head above the rest of the job seekers.
1. Even though you aren’t boomeranging back to your former employer, you still must address the elephant in the room.
Chances are the new employer was also burned by The Great Resignation and isn’t too thrilled to speak with someone who participated in the mass exodus. Address it head-on and have a narrative prepared to describe what you learned in the process. Set yourself apart from the number of others who left by being prepared to explain why the previous employer wasn’t the best fit even prior to The Great Resignation and why the current job and employer you seek is a match made in heaven.
2. Capture the opportunity for both you and your new employer.
Look for the wins for the new employer. What sets you apart from the other job applicants? Be prepared with at least 5 examples that explain why now you are the best candidate for the job. Match your prior experience with the new employer’s needs. Also discuss why taking time off between jobs has made you an even better employee because of the perspective you gained and ideas that you are now able to bring to the table.
3. Have a 5-year plan ready to share.
A 5-year plan ready will show the new employer that you are there for the long haul. Employers are weary about investing money on training only to have an employee resign shortly thereafter. Show the new employer that you understand the employer’s growth goals and how you plan to be there alongside to support their growth.
4. Network and volunteer.
You can never over-network when moving to a new job or a new field. Networking is even easier now than ever before with the number of online networking opportunities that are available. As you connect and even volunteer in areas that are of interest to you, be prepared with an elevator speech that describes your experience and goals. Carry a hardcopy of your resumé with you and have a digital version ready to send at the touch of a button.
Challenges For Middle Age Job Seekers
As a life coach for women who are in their middle-aged years, I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the challenges facing job seekers who are in their middle years. While communication is a key for any job seeker, it is especially important for an older job seeker to point out the benefits of having an experienced employee on the team. Highlight your ability to see the big picture and long-term goals in a way that someone with less experience under their belt may not appreciate.
It is also important to emphasize your ability to adapt to change and make sure your employer knows that despite your age, you are tech savvy. There is a bias in the workplace that older employees can’t keep up with technology, shoot that bias down during your interview. If possible, join networking groups that have younger members who will help keep you relevant and who have their ear to the grind regarding job trends. You must stay relevant in the game. Chances are you will be asking for more pay than a younger candidate for the same position, be prepared to explain why you’re worth the extra investment.
“No” Means A Door Is Opening Just Around The Corner
Finally, when you feel fear and self-doubt creep in, ask yourself, “What is the worst that can happen?” You’ll find that the answer is simply that you may receive a “No.” And when you think of that, “No,” realize that it is a gateway to a new door and opportunity opening just around the corner.
Opportunity abounds. It’s all about preparation and mindset.
This guest post was authored by Shari Leid
Former litigator, Shari Leid currently operates An Imperfectly Perfect Life, LLC, a professional mindset coaching business primarily serving clients who are in those tricky middle age years, helping them create the life of their dreams. She is a national speaker and author of The 50/50 Friendship Flow: Life Lessons From and For My Girlfriends and Make Your Mess Your Message: More Life Lessons From and For My Girlfriends. Her third and final book in The Friendship series is scheduled for Fall 2022. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.