It is forever the goal of every type of professional to grow and advance your career. In this economy, those desires are still present but the challenges of doing so are great. Professionals are now considering drastic ways to advance their careers such as relocation. However, before you pack your bags and uproot your existing life, consider the risks and the real implications of moving.
First, let's establish the greatest reason to relocate: you relocate because you want to move to a specific geographic region for the environment, climate, family, etc.; you have no ties or plans to move back from where you are coming; you truly love the new destination and plan to establish a long lasting life and career there. If this is the motivation behind making a move then relocating is the right decision for you and your family. Pack up the U-Haul and enjoy the excitement and thrill of moving to a new state, city and town. Congratulations on your new venture and I wish you the best of luck.
However, for those of you considering relocation based on job opportunity, please consider some serious draw backs. I have experienced all of this not personally but through years of consultation with many great professionals.
When relocating for a new opportunity or a promotion with your existing company, the logistics of relocation are easy. Companies intentionally make it that way because once you leave the life you're used to, you are trapped. Let use Boston as a location for example. If you are currently a professional residing in Boston and have a wonderful opportunity to advance your career but the advancement requires relocation, take into account some major factors: your family, extended family, friends, house, kid's friends, classmates, etc. are in and around Boston. Now think about the opportunity for advancement and where it will lead you both professionally and geographically. Are you going to be moving to a place you like? If the answer is "no" and your main goal is to eventually land a better opportunity in Boston after a couple of years of experience you should strongly reconsider your relocation.
When you get the new promotion that requires you to move, there is typically a relocation package and emotionally it is all very exciting. Everything is in order to expand your career and your financial horizons. Your company helps sell your home, move your belongings and find a new house to purchase. All very exciting and once the wheels are moving you are gone. You say goodbye to your home and look forward to coming back in a few years with a promotion.
What unfortunately happens after the dust settles is not always what you may have dreamed of. A myriad of different unknowns pop up. You realize the job isn't exactly what you thought it would be. Perhaps there is a personality conflict with your new boss or the division you moved to is struggling and you may loose your job. Also, if you have a family, you may discover that after uprooting them, your spouse and children are having a difficult time adapting to the new environment, the new school system or the general way of life. You may find that your support system was taken for granted or that building new relationships and finding dear friends takes many many years to establish. There are thousands of unknowns and many of these challenges way heavily on you and the family unit.
So what happens next? You tough it out and make it work. Even though the division you moved to had layoffs and no security, you make it through. Your two year plan to gain more experience is a success and you have advanced your career. You now have the experience you needed and can finally move back home to Boston to land the dream job you've been waiting for. You have a lengthy discussion with your family and it is unanimous. You are moving back home!
The problem is the next step in your career is not available. The position within your company that you are aiming for is currently filled by a competent executive and already has a future replacement being groomed for the role. So you start to search for a new opportunity. You find a handful of opportunities in Boston but get no calls back. There are no calls because all hiring managers will look at the candidates in their location first and then consider people who have to relocate. They do this because of the burden and challenges that comes with a move.
The good news is that your credentials are worth an interview with one of the companies. The hiring manager is doing interviews next Monday. You charge the flight on your credit card, take the day off, and fly to Boston. The interview is a success and the feedback is great. You make the cut. Second interviews will be held on the following Tuesday. You take the day off, charge the flight and again a huge success. You have now made the short list. The hiring authority asks you back the following Wednesday. You take the day off, charge the flight and make the shortlist to visit corporate the following Thursday. They are flying you and one other to corporate. This time the interviewing company pays for the flight. What a relief, but when you go to take another day off your boss gets suspicious. You are worried because now your current job could be in jeopardy. You have no choice but to move forward and start to think about what needs to get down to make this a success.
You start to set expectations with your spouse, you start thinking about putting the house on the market, hoping you make money on the sale and hoping it will not take too long to sell. You are mid way through the school year and need to figure out if you are going to take the kids out of school or keep them in school and move to Boston without your family. You start to think about buying a home in Boston and paying two mortgages until your current home sells and realize very quickly that moving back is going to take some serious sacrifice, some large financial concessions and many geographic challenges. All of which were not present when your company relocated you the first time. You decide it can be done, so you go on the final interview and things go very well. The hiring authority qualifies you and mentions that you will need to start in one and a half weeks. You agree on the start date, and to move without your family. You find out that a decision will be made within two days. Two days go by and you get the call. The company has decided to move forward with the other candidate that currently resides in Boston. You were the second runner up. You are thanked for going through the process and it is over.
To some degree you are thankful because you realize that you were not ready to make the move and you need time to get your ducks in a row. So you are faced with starting the process all over again. You think about the cost just to interview, the time off it will take to get a new job, selling your current house, finding a new house, the prospect of starting your new job in Boston without your family, etc. The list goes on and on. Finally you realize that if you are going to advance your career it is best to be where you are. That is when you realize that moving back is not an option. You and your family debate some really harsh realities and wonder if you will ever make it back.
Therefore, when considering relocation for an advancement in your career, look at all the angles. It may be an extremely exciting prospect at this point in time, but what are your ultimate goals? If you are setting your expectations that this role is temporary, I would reassess your thought process and consider your priorities. Remember: your career is not a sprint, it's a marathon. Don't just think about the immediate situation, consider the journey ahead.