Relocation has always been a tough decision for job seekers but it is even more challenging now due to the issues in the real estate market. Candidates who owe more than their homes are currently worth would find it extremely difficult if not impossible to relocate since they couldn’t sell their home for enough to cover their outstanding mortgage.
From a professional, career advancement perspective here are some key considerations:
- In many companies, it is a requirement for senior management candidates to have experience across multiple functions and business units. Often the only way to experience a different business unit is to relocate for a couple years to that location. Some companies even expect some International experience. The leaders of the future have to have a global perspective which for many organizations includes time working abroad as well as exposure to multiple business units. To advance to the most senior levels in the organization you must be willing to relocate to gain those experiences.
- There is also the proverbial offer you can’t refuse. Companies often reward high potential employees with assignments in other locations or businesses within the portfolio. They want to put their best people in these key positions and are also offering exposure which could enhance your career opportunities down the road. You have to weigh the personal costs of relocation with the clear career advantages.
- With the majority of households being dual earner households, the relocation question is further complicated by the impact on the trailing spouse. Many companies will offer assistance to help the spouse find work in the new area to entice the employee to accept the assignment. You need to seriously consider whether one spouse gains enough to offset possibly several months of unemployment for the trailing spouse. If there are children in school, the considerations get even more complicated.
- With voluntary relocations, if you are not interested or absolutely just can’t accept, be sure to say thank you for the opportunity.
- If you are seriously considering a relocation, get detailed information about the support they will provide. Know what expenses are covered and what isn’t. Will they buy your house if doesn’t sell and at what price? What about temporary living quarters while you search for a home? What about trips home while your family is still there waiting for the house to sell? What if you need to let the kids finish the school year in the old location, how can they support you during the time of transition? Talk to a tax specialist to understand the implication of these transactions.
- With the current economy, there is an increase in “involuntary” relocations. The company may move an entire division or function to a new location for cost savings, etc. Your job in the current location will no longer exist. You need to think about the opportunity in the new location and the impact of that on your career and your personal life. The alternative is not having a job but you need to understand the cost implications and what support is provided. In addition to assessing your interest and opportunities in the new location, you need to honestly assess your current skills and how marketable you are in your current area. What is the demand currently for those skills?