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Lisa Kimmel, Edelman Toronto's general manager, hired back Rob Manne as vice-president after he left to work at a social media company.
Lisa Kimmel, Edelman Toronto's general manager, hired back Rob Manne as vice-president after he left to work at a social media company.

Career Advancement

How to benefit from being a boomerang employee Add to ...

Changing jobs to broaden his experience was a revelation for Rob Manne: He was more valuable to his former employer.

“When you talk with a former manager about coming back, you’re a much more known quantity to them than if you’re applying to a new employer. They know the kind of work you do and if there’s an open position you’ll be a prime candidate for the job,” said Mr. Manne, 37. He left Edelman Canada in Toronto as a senior account manager in 2009 and because of the skills and growth he’d gained at a social media company was hired back at the public relations company 18 months later at the higher title of vice-president.

A boomerang career move like this can be particularly effective to jump-start the rise of young professionals in junior roles who aspire to be managers, said Curtis Odom, author of a new book, Stuck in the Middle.

“Even as you amass more experience and knowledge, management may continue to think of you in the junior position they hired you for originally. It can be difficult for them to see you’ve grown,” explained Mr. Odom, principal of consultant Prescient Talent Strategists LLC to in Westport, Mass.

Even though the pace of job growth in the economy remains sluggish, “you can have a faster advancement and be more in demand if you show initiative by moving to broaden your skill set than you will if you stay put and expect to get rewarded with a promotion for your loyalty.”

Feeling stuck is increasingly a problem for workers in their 30s and 40s, who are seeing older Baby Boomers delay retirement from jobs they hope to move into. But it can happen to people at any age who see promotion prospects remain frustratingly far on the horizon.

Mr. Odom suggests giving any job three years. “The first year is all about trying discover and understand the organization, the focus of the second is delivering and developing a reputation in the organization and showing you can do things that add value. In the third year, you’ll be able to evaluate whether you still find the role exciting and have the opportunity to move ahead in the way you want to,” he said.

If you decide to make a career advancing move, he suggests a process of reverse engineering.

“Determine the role you aspire to have and look at job descriptions on recruiting sites for the requirements, experiences and degrees someone in that position must have,” he said. These requisites will include leadership experience and a series of skill sets you may not be able to get at your current job. International experience is also something to seek out because increasingly employers are looking for leaders who are able to be global managers.

Employers are increasingly open to boomerang employees because a job change can also make for more committed employees, said Joanne Boucher, general manager of recruiter Bagg Technology Resources in Toronto. “The grass is not always greener with a new employer, and former employees who return often appreciate their employer more the second time round.”

Her own experience was a move in 2005 from Bagg Group, where she had been a branch manager, to a similar role with a large Canadian staffing company that international operations, an area she hadn’t worked in before. It gave her more technical skills and more experience in senior-level decision making.

When the company was purchased by a global firm, “I decided to reach out to see how things were going at Bagg,” She pointed out the value she could add from the experience and courses she’d taken in information technology. That got her an offer to come back with a step up to general manager. It also led to her being part of what is known in the company as the CEO group, people being groomed for executive positions in the organization.

“I really don’t think I would have reached this level without the move. I would still be in an account position,” she said. “The move got me interested in learning more and getting involved in a whole new business I didn’t know before.”

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