Matter & Substance
  March 19, 2020

Keep in touch with former employees through an alumni network

For many employers, the struggle to find and hire good workers is real. So real, in fact, that some employers aren’t looking only at new faces, they’re keeping in touch with familiar ones as well.

Sure, you could add an ex-employee’s name to a newsletter mailing list or send him or her a holiday card. But there’s a more sophisticated approach to consider: creating an alumni network.

3 reasons why

There are three primary reasons to consider taking this step:

  1. Just in case. Employees depart their jobs amicably for many reasons. Some may be students heading off to college; others might leave because a spouse’s job has been relocated. Sometimes they simply decide to give another employer a shot. Whatever the reason, you never know when a skilled, valuable former worker may find him- or herself job hunting again.
  2. Referrals. Former employees might find a happy home elsewhere but know a colleague, friend or family member who’s looking for a job. An alumni network can keep your organization’s name top of mind and enable ex-workers to refer job seekers to you with minimal effort.
  3. Employer branding. Many former employees may never find their way back to you or refer anyone. Nonetheless, a well-run alumni network helps maintain a positive perception of your employer brand. So, when they speak of you, they speak well. This may push not only job candidates to you through affirmative word of mouth, but also engaged customers.

How to go about it

As you might’ve guessed, technology plays a central role in alumni networks. Today’s many social media platforms make it simple to create an online community. Various high-profile employers such as Nestlé and Lufthansa have established alumni pages on their websites. There’s even alumni management software specifically designed to create a robust online network, including compatibility with mobile devices.

If you choose one of the latter two options, look to offer features such as:

  • Search capabilities for former workers to find colleagues,
  • News about alumni and the organization,
  • General job search and hiring resources, and
  • Profile pages where ex-employees can update their contact and career information.

In addition, manage the network proactively. During exit interviews, inform valued employees of its existence and encourage them to join. Be sure you hold up your end of the bargain: regularly contact members and add content to the platform.

Risks and challenges

There are risks and challenges to alumni networks. When employees leave on bad terms, you’ll face the delicate matter of likely not inviting them, and you’ll have to monitor the network carefully to ensure disgruntled former workers don’t join with bad intentions.

Last, but certainly not least, you’ll need to carefully consider the costs involved before diving in. These may include software purchases as well as potentially copious labor hours spent establishing and maintaining the network. Contact us for help contemplating the idea’s feasibility and managing the costs if you decide to move forward.