Keith Hicks, executive vice president of human resources at Radiant Systems, has a saying. “The best hire is a re-hire.” After this global provider of information technology to the restaurant and retail industries experienced some lay-offs during the economic downturn of 2008, their workforce and business is growing again, leading them to re-hire past employees.

“There is one employee in particular that I remember that had to be let go because that part of the business no longer existed,” remembers Hicks, whose company has numerous customers in the D.C. area. “She was a stellar employee and we hated to lose her. As business started growing, she was one of the first people we went back to and it’s been a huge success.”

Boomerang employees, a term referring to individuals who return to a former employer, are becoming more common as previously faltering companies are growing their workforce once again.

“It is not at all uncommon for employers to welcome top performers back with open arms,” says Mike Ryan, senior vice president of marketing and client strategy at NYC-based Madison Performance Group. “It used to be if you left an organization that was it for you.”

That mindset is changing.

Whether or not a company seeks out past employees has a lot to do with how they parted ways. “There are two roads an employee can take,” says Hicks. “They can harbor a lot of resentment or they can realize it was a business decision and not take it personally.” Maintaining a positive attitude and keeping in contact with former colleagues can lead to future opportunities.

“I think boomerangers will be a recognized category,” says Ryan. “I think that it will not be so unusual anymore that they are looked upon as real unusual cases nor will they be that common that people will expect you come back the moment you resign.”

Why re-hiring a former employee makes sense for a company:

-There is no need to re-train that person for the job. “They come with experience in the company, an understanding of the business and the culture,” says Hicks. “That saves us time and expense and they are able to hit the ground running.”

-Most ultimately come back with a refreshed attitude, says Ryan. “Often the person realizes that maybe the grass wasn’t greener on the other side.” Employers say that re-hires often have a newfound energy and excitement for the business.

-Former employees bring a new level of skills and expertise to the business. One Radiant Systems employee left to open his own restaurant and now that hands-on experience is bringing a fresh perspective to his work.

-Connections already exist. “The employee usually has pretty good connections with the infrastructure and not to mention a lot of intellectual capital. In a knowledge-based economy that is invaluable,” says Ryan.

For those considering returning to a former employer, Ryan says don’t hesitate to take the first step. “Right now employers are going to be receptive, providing you left on good terms, to bringing someone on board that knows their way.”

This special advertising section was written by Heather Kempskie, a freelance writer, in conjunction with The Washington Post Custom Content Department. The production of this supplement did not involve The Washington Post news or editorial staff.