Should you employ former colleagues?

We recently welcomed Claudette Gouws to the Progressive Travel Recruitment team as our new Office Administrator, based in Durban. Account Manager Lee has worked with Claudette before, and here they both talk to me about the benefits of working with former colleagues.

Lee says, ‘Claudette and I actually met years ago through mutual friends, long before we ever worked together. In fact she came to my 21st birthday party. After that, Claudette went off to work on cruise ships and my travel career was getting going and we lost touch for a while. On returning to South Africa, Claudette applied for a job as a travel agent for Pentravel, where I worked. When she came for her interview ‘work day’ neither of us knew it was the same person we had met years before, because all we had was first names.’

Claudette says, ‘It was a welcome surprise seeing Lee. All I knew was that I was meeting someone called Lee at the Kloof branch. It could have been a man or woman – I didn’t know my Lee worked at Pentravel. In fact, she was the manager at the time and here to interview me for a travel agent job.’

‘So, I got the job! I started work as a travel agent there in July 2010. Then, after having my son in November that year, I went back to the Kloof branch briefly, before applying for a position as a ticketing consultant at our Central Services branch. From there I moved into the accounts department, where I became the accountant for the region and so I was now Lee’s accountant. This meant that we still worked together and often spoke over the phone and saw each other at social events.’

Lee says, ‘Keeping in touch with former colleagues is always a great idea. You just never know what opportunities people may open for you in the future, or in what direction your career will go. You can be someone’s manager in one place and end up working alongside each other somewhere else.’

She continues, ‘It’s handy to know how someone performs when you employ them, so working with former colleagues who you know will do good job is an advantage.’

‘Lee is a great manager and friend,’ says Claudette. ‘I have always enjoyed working with her. When she left to go to the UK, I joked about getting a job with her again, if or when she returned to South Africa. So when this position came up, I didn’t even hesitate!’

I’ve also worked with a few of the same people throughout my career. One colleague, Sara has intertwined with me throughout both our travel careers. We worked together at an airline sales and marketing department. We were then both at a travel recruitment company. And when I set up Progressive Travel Recruitment, Sara helped me to grow the business. Now, she has become a client and my colleagues are able to help her employ people in her new role as an in-house recruiter for a travel management company.

I would definitely advise people to keep close to the colleagues they work well with. You never know what opportunities you might be able to bring each other around the next career corner.


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