No Rehires? An Uncommon Policy

By Lindsey Novak

November 1, 2018 5 min read

Q: Why would a company not want to rehire good workers? Five-plus years ago, I worked for a company for several years. I never gave them any problems. In fact, it was just the opposite. Among my accomplishments were 1) Scoring 98 out of 100 points on the company's training course exam (they were impressed by my results); 2) I was part of a small team that scored 100 percent when audited by one of the company's outside vendors/clients; 3) I was awarded an important company honor; and 4) I had a good attendance record, high production numbers, good work habits, etc.

After the company had a massive workforce reduction due to a vendor/client awarding its contract to our company's competition, I "saw the writing on the wall" and willingly decided to leave. I found another job, gave my two weeks' notice and left on good terms. All my former supervisors gave me good references, but one has since died, others have retired and others left for better positions at more solid companies.

I'm job-hunting again, and I want to return there. I applied twice through the company's human resources department and never received a callback. I then went to an employment agency, telling them I was willing to work as a temporary employee for my former employer. (I had originally been hired there after only six weeks as a temp.) The recruiter said the company would not rehire former employees "under any circumstances." She had tried to get other former employees rehired there and the company rejected them, too. Why would a business do this?

A: According to Paul Falcone, an HR executive and author of the best-selling book "96 Great Interview Questions to Ask Before You Hire," that is an extremely uncommon policy, "especially in this economy, where proven talent is so hard to find."

Falcone wonders if "Perhaps the CEO or an executive member of the senior leadership team had been 'bitten' once by a bad rehire and decided never again to rehire an ex-employee. Outside of this one exception," he says, "I've never heard of a company with a policy or practice of refusing to rehire alums.

"Rehiring a former employee is usually a win-win all around — the company knows the person well because he or she is time-tested. The cost-per-rehire is minimal, if anything, and the chances of turnover are drastically reduced. The rehire benefits from a 'sheltered transition' back into the organization because many of the typical new-hire surprises are avoided. It also sends a positive message to the rest of the company: 'Anne left but is back again, so we must be a cool place to work!'

It also looks great on a person's resume to be rehired by a former employer. I would never recommend to any company a policy disallowing rehires. Even my own work history includes several companies where I was hired back into the fold, and I was always grateful to be back among friends."

Falcone says that "Every organization has the right to set its own policies and procedures, as long as they're not discriminatory or unlawful. If this company wants to avoid rehires, it has every right to do so, but it must be consistent in applying this policy to all potential rehires." The question is whether the company has a written policy or has implemented a spontaneous knee-jerk reaction to a particular bad rehire.

Since your goal is to be rehired, think of ways to circumvent their fears. Write a letter to the CEO, president or another member of senior management, highlighting your awards and accomplishments at work. Remember, only management knows the intricacy of what caused the layoff. You bailed out even though you were not part of the layoff, so use this letter to explain your rationale for leaving. Management may have counted on those who survived the layoff and were upset when employees decided to leave on their own. You saw your decision as survival for the future; management may have seen it as abandoning a now-stable ship. If "no rehire" is not a written policy, your letter may open a door for management to understand an employee's viewpoint and see the advantages of onboarding you again.

Email your workplace issues and experiences to [email protected] For more information about career and life coach Lindsey Novak, visit, and for past columns, see

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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