June 19, 2009


Filed under: insights — Paul Kilman @ 11:02 am

An attorney called me to discuss what seemed like a very good opportunity that involved a relocation.  His real concern was about how best to handle the process of exploring both the career opportunity and its location.   Let’s be honest, relocation adds an additional layer of complexity to any career move.  It may needlessly become a significant impediment and stressful deal breaker later in the process if not realistically considered upfront.

There is much that can be said on this subject, but here are just a few of the basic points that I discuss with candidates: 

Most people who are the least bit career-oriented will say, and often times really believe, that they would be “open to” relocation for a “strong opportunity.”  With the ease of sending resumes on-line to employers almost worldwide and with recruiters casting a broad geographic net to speak with good candidates, it is understandable that people flirt with the idea of relocation without fully considering the realities.

Employers do understand the realities of recruiting.  You can interview for a position and legitimately learn that this is not the job, organization, the people of the location for you.  This is just a fact of recruiting life.  What can tire and annoy people, however, is if your decision to not pursue an opportunity is based upon information or motivations that you could have identified and disclosed early in the process.  Basic research and soul searching is implicit to any career advancement process.  Employers hope that you are doing your due diligence about your needs, the opportunity and the location along the way.  

Are you more career-oriented or life-style oriented?  Let’s consider two ends of this motivation spectrum.  There are folks who are most interested in developing their professional skills and are willing to move to the best employment situations to do so.  This person, and his or her family, will benefit from this professional advancement and they are usually eager to embrace the adventure of the move.  To such folks, the glass is always half full when considering the efforts normally involved in moving. 

There are also folks who are much more lifestyle and location focused.  Work is important, but they are willing to compromise career growth to varying degrees to live in certain areas – to remain near family and friends, to stay involved in a special activity, to not disrupt a spouse’s career or to be near environments that are either exciting or supportive.  For these people, it would be the very rare, if any, career growth opportunity involving a relocation that is worth these personal lifestyle tradeoffs.  

Where do you fit on this spectrum?  Both are legitimate and understandable motivations – and they are both to be respected.  Think about where you currently fit on this scale.  Should you be open to relocation?  This is a question only you can answer.  The only employment truth I can share is this:  As you become more experienced, strong career opportunities come at both their own timing and their own location.  If advancement is important to you, you will generally limit your career growth opportunities as time goes on if you limit your geographic scope.    

If you haven’t relocated before, consider the realities early.  It does involve planning and commitment – and a willingness to embrace the move with optimism.  People who have not thought through relocation prior to receiving an offer can sometimes feel a little overwhelmed when it comes time to make a prompt decision.  In these instances, it somehow seems more work than a candidate envisioned and he or she can pass on a good opportunity just because they feel a little beleaguered. 

Ask yourself these questions:  Would you move for this career opportunity?  If so, why?  When the “why” is truly compelling to you and your family, you will eagerly embrace the challenges of relocation and ultimately find that, in the end, moving was not nearly as tough as you thought it might be.   Conversely, if changing your lifestyle is just not worth what someone else thinks is the right next career step for you, then be honest upfront and follow your heart.

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