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‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and the Case for Corporate Alumni Programs

In a move reminiscent of Luke Perry’s epic return to ‘Beverly Hills ‘90210’ and George Clooney’s memorable homecoming on ‘ER,’ the producers of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ recently announced former castmate Isaiah Washington would come back to the show for an upcoming special episode.

What does this have to do with recruitment? Who cares??? We’re talking about TV now and that’s more important than anything in the world!!! The news speaks to the potential benefit in maintaining relationships with former employees – an effort many companies – including Deloitte, IBM and KPMG – have embraced for years by creating corporate alumni programs.

Much like college alumni programs, corporate alumni programs help companies stay in touch with former employees in hopes to turn them into brand ambassadors. Though some companies may doubt the value of staying in touch with former employees, corporate alumni programs provide numerous benefits for the companies that maintain them. Here are three major ones:

Three Benefits of Corporate Alumni Programs

  1. Strengthen your employment brand. Like current employees, former employees can make stellar brand ambassadors – extolling the virtues of working for your company and generating interest through word-of-mouth. And keep in mind that their success is tied to you, so boast about them. When potential candidates learn that professionals they admire used to work for you, it will only increase their desire to work for you as well. (There’s a reason struggling actors try to land roles in music videos – they’re hoping to follow in the footsteps of such stars as Courtney Cox, Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lopez.)
  2. Gain quality referrals. It wasn’t surprising when Lisa Kudrow got her former ‘Friends’ colleagues guest spots on ‘Web Therapy:’ Employee referrals are a great way to generate new hires. Why? Because employees know what it takes to succeed in your culture, they can refer and recommend people who will be a good cultural fit. Referrals from former employees work the same way. And (also much like employee referrals) referrals from your corporate alumni network can minimize costs associated with recruitment advertising and minimize time spent sourcing new talent.
  3. Discover a new talent pipeline. There’s a reason ‘Cougar Town‘ creator Bill Lawrence keeps re-recruiting former employees from his last TV project, ‘Scrubs,’ to appear on the show: Former employees can make great potential candidates. It’s not uncommon for companies to make “Boomerang” hires; therefore, your corporate alumni program could be considered a potential talent pipeline. Though rehiring former employees can be tricky, it has its benefits, too: rehired employees already understand the company culture and practices, which minimizes time spend onboarding them and enables them to “hit the ground running.”

Now, at a time when companies are looking for new and creative ways to close the skills gap at their own organizations (like pursuing alternative talent pools or creating returnships), a corporate alumni program provides yet another avenue through which employers can find the right people for their hard-to-fill positions.

Tell us: Do you have an alumni program at your company? What benefits have you gained from it?

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.

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