Candidate sourcing is difficult – and according to recruiters, it’s only become more of a challenge in recent years. In fact, 65% of recruiters claim talent shortage is the biggest difficulty they face in the hiring process (source).

With social media platforms and job boards taking over the recruitment industry, there are more ways than ever to reach job candidates. But there’s one valuable resource you may be ignoring: former employees.

If you make a conscious effort to maintain relationships with your past employees, they may become the missing piece of your recruitment strategy. Keep reading to learn the benefits of staying in touch with your former employees!

1.    Secure job candidate referrals from past employees

Former employees know your company better than anyone else—apart from current employees of course. They know the environment, the culture, the job requirements, and other factors that can only be learned through experience. Most importantly, they know what kind of talent will fit in at the company – and they may refer you to the perfect candidate.

Think about it: if you’re choosing to reach out to a former employee, they were probably a great member of your team: hard-working, motivated and skilled. There’s a good chance they have connections within their personal networks who have those same qualities!

To secure a referral from a former employee, reach out to them! Tell them about the role you’re looking to fill and ask them if they know of anyone who would be a good fit. This has multiple benefits. You’ll show the former employee that you value their insight—and if they do know someone who fits the role, they’ll be motivated to help out.

2.    Improve your brand reputation

Even if your past employees don’t directly refer you to job candidates, they can still be a massive help to your hiring team. When you maintain a positive relationship with former employees, you help to build an increasingly important part of hiring – your employer brand.

If past employees appreciate the way you treated them during and after their time with your company, they will be more likely to spread positive feedback – both through word of mouth and through online reviews sites like Glassdoor.

In today’s competitive recruiting landscape, having a strong employer reputation can make or break your hiring efforts. Companies who have a strong employer brand (source):

  • see a 28% reduction in employee turnover
  • reduce cost-per-hire by 50%
  • generate 50% more qualified job applicants
  • have a 1-2x faster time-to-hire

It’s great to have current employees who speak highly of your company, but former employees are just as important. Whether they’re complimenting your work environment to friends over dinner, or writing a glowing review online, they play an integral role in how your company is perceived.

3.    Hire former employees

Sometimes, former employees won’t just help you find strong job candidates – they may be the strong job candidate. Many companies find success when rehiring a former employee. In fact, bringing back past employees (often referred to as “boomerang employees”) is a growing trend in the recruiting world. A recent study of a 15,000-person company found that 20% of their hires were past employees that had left the company and then come back (source).

Of course, the details of the former employee’s departure from the company are important. Of course if the former employee was fired or left under unfavorable conditions, it would be a mistake to rehire them.  But if they maintained a solid relationship with your company during and after their exit, they may be worth pursuing again. Consider the following benefits to rehiring a former employee:

Faster on-boarding

A job candidate who has previously worked at your company will require significantly less training than a standard hire. Considering it typically takes eight months for a newly-hired employee to reach full productivity (source), rehiring a past employee can cut down on that time significantly.

They’ve already proven their abilities

Often, an applicant will look perfect on paper and then struggle with the job once hired. No matter how extensive your recruiting process is, the only way to know how a job candidate will perform is to hire them and see.

Former employees, however, have already proven their competence. You have evidence that speaks to their productivity, problem solving skills, strengths, and their ability to work within a team – all things you can’t truly learn from a resume.

They’ve acquired new skills

In a sense, you know what you’re getting when you hire a former employee – they’ve worked for you before. But if they’ve been in the workforce since leaving your company, they’ve likely gained new skills and perfected old ones. This is all the more reason to keep in touch with employees after they leave.

They know the company culture

It’s difficult to determine how a job candidate will adapt to your company culture.  When you hire a former employee, you remove that guesswork from the equation. Look for past employees who worked well will their colleagues and built positive relationships during their time at your company.

Final Thoughts About Job Candidates and Former Employees

Remember: don’t just reach out to your former employees when you need something from them. Start with small gestures that show you still value the work they did for you. Interact with one of their posts on social media or shoot them a personalized message on holidays or special occasions. Consider hosting occasional networking events for former employees.

Don’t treat your past employees like ex-employees. Treat them like alumni. Create a culture where professional relationships don’t end after someone moves on to a new job. This will do wonders for your employer brand and your alumni will be eager to help your future recruiting efforts.

To reach more qualified candidates, contact ZoomInfo today!

About the author


ZoomInfo combines the leading business contact database with best-in-class technology to pinpoint, process, and deliver the marketing and sales intelligence you need— exactly when and how you need it, to always hit your number.

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