By Maria Valdez Haubric
Big companies have long used this tactic, sometimes creating official networks of ex-employees they tap into when they need to fill an open slot. But for a small business, this concept makes even more sense (and is even easier to execute). Unlike a big corporation, where ex-employees may be completely unknown to the hiring manager, in a small company you, the owner, undoubtedly remember everyone who’s ever worked for you. You know their good and bad points, their skills and experience—and you know whether you’d like to have them back on your team or not.
So how can a small company stay connected with its former employees to ensure you can reach them when you’re looking for new employees? Here are some steps to make it simple
Capture their data. If you have to lay off a qualified employee or if someone leaves for a different job, make certain you have all of their contact information, including phone numbers, address and emails.
Use social media. If you don’t already have connections with your team on social media, make sure to connect with former employees on LinkedIn (or make sure someone at your company who was close with them does). That way, you can stay up-to-date on their career and the new skills they’re gaining, and will have a better sense of whether they’d be open to coming back to your company if a position opens up that seems like a good fit.
Stay in touch real-world style. Social media is great, but in-person meetings are what really keep connections alive. Think about inviting former employees to workplace events such as happy hours or get-togethers once in a while. I have one colleague who holds an annual “reunion” for current and former employees of her business at her home every year. It’s a great way to keep connections current, and also to find out what people are working on in their jobs and what opportunities exist to work with other people’s companies.
The benefits of building a former employee network are many. Even if you don’t have a job opening, you may be able to use former employees as freelancers or contractors in your business. Or you can refer them to colleagues who need their skills. In this way, you’re enhancing your relationships and strengthening your network for the time when you do need to hire.
Image by Flickr user Sean MacEntee (Creative Commons)