There’s a great quote by Oprah Winfrey that says, “I believe that one of life’s greatest risks is never daring to risk.” And who doesn’t remember when she announced the final curtain call for her beloved Harpo Studios in Chicago to start her brand new OWN Network—in California no less! Relocating to advance your career doesn’t get any riskier than that. We all know that “Oprah wasn’t built in a day.” More importantly, we know that her empire wasn’t built without some assumption of risk. Yet, we’re still unsure of which career risks are worth taking, particularly when it comes to deciding whether to relocate for a job.
Whether moving to a new city or trekking across the globe for your dream job, making the decision to relocate for work can leave you holding a mixed bag of emotions. On one hand, you’re thrilled about the new opportunity; you are moving up in your company and experiencing career advancement, changing career directions, and/or receiving a significant pay increase. However, you’re also simultaneously confronting a fear of the unknown and new things, which can be overwhelming—new expenses, learning an unknown city or foreign country, or working with a new team. All of these are real stressors and deserve consideration in your decision making, but keep in mind that employers are also aware of the difficulties of relocating and have generally thought through strategy to make the transition easier for you.
Many times, employers are more than willing to provide access to services, such as school recommendations or spousal job search assistance, and extra financial assistance to offset expenses you may incur and to make your relocation a smooth one, like covered moving costs, bridge loans if you can’t sell your house before you relocate, or childcare subsidy.
First, determine what your real needs are, then ask the “right” questions. Asking the right questions before you take the relocation leap can mean the difference between a great career move and a career limiting decision. According to Atlas World Group in their 49th annual Corporate Relocation Survey, the data from 2016 revealed that among the top reasons employees gave for declining relocation are family issues/ties, a spouse or partner’s employment, or a lack of desire to relocate or leave their home state.
Relocation is a very personal decision, and the risk varies depending on your needs as well as the stage you are at in your professional career. When considering a job opportunity that requires relocation, it’s imperative that you make sure the prospect is financially and emotionally sound for you, but, most importantly, that it aligns with your long-term career plan.
So where do you begin? Here are the top 10 questions professionals should ask themselves, before accepting a job offer that requires relocation:
1. What is the cost of living in the new city or country? Are there intrinsic differences that will increase your current expenses and decrease your net salary (i.e. paid parking, public transportation, state taxes, income tax implications, additional insurance coverage)?
2. What relocation expenses does the company cover? Read the fine print and determine all of the implications of the relocation agreement, as well as the benefits (i.e. repayment requirements, temporary housing, relocation bonuses, taxes, and relocation days off).
3. What is the stability of the company? Review how the company has performed in previous quarters. Read news coverage about the company’s performance.
4. Will the cost of your daily commute increase or decrease? Consider what will it cost to commute back home to visit, also.
5. Will this move help advance your career within the company or your industry?
6. Why do you want to relocate? Consider your current and potential new labor market.
7. What are your salary and benefit requirements (total rewards), and will the new job and city or country meet all of those needs?
8. Do you understand the responsibilities of the new role, the schedule, company culture, and work-life balance complexities?
9. Who will you report to, and what will your new team dynamic be like? Ask if you can meet the team and reporting manager prior to accepting an offer.
10. How does this opportunity fit into your long-term career plan?
Toni the CEO & Founder of The Corporate Tea, an online resource that provides unfiltered advice to help professionals navigate their careers. Toni is a Career Strategist & HR Blogger with over a decade of experience in Corporate America. For more insights and advice follow her @thecorporatetea