Keeping in touch with former employees ensures access to valuable talent pool

By Cathy Clonts, Alumni Web Services

Whatever you call it -- the ‘big crew change’ or the ‘graying workforce’ -- everyone agrees workforce demographics are changing and companies must have an effective strategy for avoiding talent shortfalls.
A recent report fromt he CIPD found 81 percent of HR professionals are experiencing hiring difficulties and 73 percent indicate this is particularly true for specialist skills. Employers requiring technical talent note more professionals are leaving the workforce than joining.

Weakness = strength 

Enter a new idea born of the age-old adage, “your greatest weakness will become your greatest strength.” Exiting employees create a vast and proven talent bank for employers who are willing to pursue it. 

Within the pool of former employees is that new mother who is open to working flex hours; the retiree willing to mentor a new hire or take on a short-term project; and the worker who crossed over to Brand X and discovered the grass is not always greener. 

With former employees like these in mind, forward-thinking companies are doing more than letting exiting employees know the door remains ajar.

Online neighborhoods as solution 

Increasingly, employers are engaging in online alumni communities to stay connected to former employees and track career growth. When done correctly, these are win-win websites. A good place for the company to visit. And a very good place for individuals who could receive an invitation back to employment. 

In fact, within the oil industry, a number of Fortune 500 companies mine alumni communities to find and hire back previous employees who return with enhanced skills. These companies realize former employees are uniquely positioned to hit the ground running, and sourcing talent through an alumni community is fast and cost-effective.

How it works 

According to our experience at Alumni Website Services (AWS), to be a successful place for employee networking as well as a graying workforce solution, professional online alumni communities must be managed. In addition to socializing, previous employees should expect to regularly receive news they care about. On the company side, online networking technologies, such as that offered by AWS, must be maximized for the business. Benefits include:

  • A recruitment tool that mines for experienced talent
  • Quality referrals from individuals who know the company
  • A receptive audience for promoting brand and image messages

With the data-mining tool, companies efficiently search through proven talent using key criteria like technical discipline, years of experience and location preferences. Mining within qualified talent pools is superior to general mining sites like and LinkedIn, which are largely populated by entry-level talent. 

As a pool for obtaining quality referrals, these alumni websites are excellent. Former employees know the company and can recommend someone who is a good fit. 

Through it all, helpful, reader-friendly communications that appear regularly keep members connected and drive home the message—“Although you’ve left the company, the door remains open.” Messages reach both passive and active job seekers as demonstrated in the following examples. 

A Deloitte alumnus who joined the online community for social reasons noticed an attractive job posting and returned to the company. 

Within the Chevron community a member who had gone to work for another company was recruited back after he realized he missed the work at Chevron. Said the hiring manager, “Keeping in touch with people after they leave is vital.” 

In short, no longer does the loss of an experienced employee have to hit a company as hard. With online employee networks, employers can fill that talent gap quickly by bringing in experienced, capable former employees for short-term consulting opportunities and as mentors to train new hires. 

The days of an uninterrupted career with one company are over. Consequently, savvy companies are working through online alumni communities to maintain win-win relationships with employees and positively reposition the revolving door. 

For a comprehensive list of petroleum and power careers in the US and abroad, visit
PennEnergy Jobs today.

Cathy Clonts is president of
Alumni Web Services, the largest provider of online networking communities and management services to the oil and gas industry. Today AWS offers a comprehensive employee networking tool that serves the desires of corporate alumni to stay connected with one another, provides short- and long-term employment opportunities for former employees and cost-effectively supports employers’ needs for experienced talent.

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