There are multiple steps in the search process and a very good search consultant should never try to skip steps or take shortcuts. In most cases it will always backfire. When a candidate is dealing with a possible relocation (especially in today’s economic environment) every stakeholder needs to know the facts – and with every detail on the table. There are NO shortcuts when it comes to evaluating and dealing with a possible relocation.
For the most part, it was a completely different world just twelve to eighteen months ago (depending on where the candidate lived) to handle an executive relocation package for a “C” level position. The base and bonus or target earnings from the cash compensation were usually fairly straightforward. Generally speaking it was also fairly easy to provide the candidate with some temporary living expenses – 3 to 6 months was standard. The house-hunting trip(s) with the spouse was generally a standard expense item and just another box to check in a candidate’s relocation. Some organizations offered more relocation perks depending on the position.
That was then …This is now.
The U.S. housing market has changed the way clients, candidates and yes – search consultants handle job offers that involve relocation. The qualification process is more important now than ever before. We use a third party company to assist us in evaluating the details for any candidate relocation. They have to work hard and peel the onion layer-by-layer to really understand the family dynamics and make sure the entire family is on board with the move. They try to understand the specific market conditions in the candidate’s neighborhood to find out what homes have sold in the past 30-90 days, average sale price, cost per square feet, average days on the market, number of homes in their neighborhood under foreclosure AND …the candidate’s expectation of the price they need to get from a prospective buyer to make the deal work. I tell candidates to do their own homework and become educated about the details on the value of their home. Use websites like www.zillow.com and do a little research on the value of your home and neighborhood. Deal with facts and data – not emotion.
In several cases during the past 6 months the ideal (the best) candidate that loved the culture, the opportunity, had great chemistry with the hiring manager and wanted to accept the new job had to withdraw due to the financial issues regarding the sale of their principle residence. That hurts!
Here are a few things to consider if you have a chance for promotion or want to consider accepting a new position that requires relocation IF you know in advance that selling your home will be difficult:
- Consider renting your home if the rental income gives you neutral to positive cash flow. Not everyone wants to be a landlord – but it may be a short term option until the housing market stabilizes.
- Sell your home on a lease purchase arrangement. Get a down payment from the buyer that you can live with and apply part of the monthly rent to the purchase price of your home. Set a deadline when the buyer must refinance the home and pay off the mortgage to get the loan out of your name. If housing prices in your market are continuing to decline – this may be too risky.
- Consider renting a small condo or apartment for 6-12 months and commute home on weekends. Many employers understand this may be the only way to get you on board and may be willing to help off-set some of your travel expenses until your family can relocate.
There is usually a way to make a relocation work if everyone involved is flexible and a little creative. The housing market will eventually stabilize – and we will hit the housing bottom soon. However… make sure you understand the facts the next time you are ready to say YES in your job search if relocation is required.