Returning to work for a former employer can benefit both sides of the equation.

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It used to be that when you left a job you instantly became persona non grata at that company. You’d shown “disloyalty.” Your name was mud. You were dead to them.

No more. Today, employers have figured out that there is value in rehiring former employees. In fact, it’s become so common it has a name: “boomeranging.” Companies do it because a boomeranger is a known quantity. Boomerangers already know how to fit into the corporate culture, and they’re able to come up to speed quickly. Retention rates tend to be high for boomeranging employees, who may have learned that the “greener grass” is not so green after all.

But what does mean to you, the potential boomeranger? Well, for starters:

A boost up the corporate ladder. Leaving and then returning with some valuable new experience under your belt can be a faster way to advance than by just staying and trying to rise through the ranks.

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A better negotiating stance. To be sure, your former company wants you because you’re wonderful, but let’s face it, a big part of your appeal is that it’s cheaper to rehire someone than to start fresh with a new person. Keep this fact in mind while negotiating salary. And remember to get your old seniority and benefits reinstated.

A bandage for your resume gap. Have you been out of the workforce for a spell? A gap in your work history — the kiss of death for so many job hunters — might not matter much to a former employer, who already knows and presumably loves you. Your contacts may even allow you to circumvent “normal” hiring channels.

Do keep in mind that boomeranging works best when you’ve left a company for some positive purpose (to get an extra degree, to have a child), and when you haven’t stayed away too long. Think twice if you left because of a toxic work environment or because you felt there was no room for growth. Also, if you want to return because it feels easy and safe, you may find that you quickly tire of your “new old” job.

But be clear on why you left and why you want to come back, and boomeranging may well be your key to job happiness.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at