Relocation Benefits a Thing of the Past

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In the good old days, when strong candidates could dictate the terms of employment, midcareer professionals expected some sort of relocation assistance. But in today's economic climate, the employer has the distinct advantage. And the change in the relocation kickback couldn't have come at a worse time. More finance professionals are considering moves far beyond their original job searches, given the downturn in the job market.

A new research report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) notes that housing and relocation benefits declined dramatically from 2007 to 2011. The report noted a sizeable drop in assistance selling a previous home, cost-of-living differential, location visit assistance, rental benefits, spouse relocation assistance, temporary relocation aid and mortgage and down payment assistance.

Dan Ryan, principal at Ryan Search and Consulting and a member of SHRM's expertise panel on staffing management, suggests that candidates be prepared for the very real prospect of a move. He recommends job seekers do research on the regions of the country that might have a better economic climate than their own. Get information from friends and relatives out of state, and check out online resources, scouring local and national newspapers and state and national labor data.

So, when's the right and wrong time to move? According to Ryan, there are many factors to consider before you pack your bags:

Selling Your Home-Ryan says that one of the main reasons many midcareer professionals aren't as mobile as they could be is due to their home. If you've lost equity in your house, and you're having problems selling it, it certainly makes you less willing or unable to move.

Financial Techies and Senior Staffers Get Perks-Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. IT experts are still being courted by firms. "There's a vacuum of candidates there," says Ryan. Upper level or C-suite personnel are still getting moving assistance. "The level of the role dictates the level of relocation assistance," he adds.

Family Matters-Consider your spouse or partner and what their job prospects will be. The quality of schools is also a big issue. Plus, Ryan notes that when kids get older, most of his candidates are less likely to move their high schoolers.

Factoring in the Cost-Do your homework on the locale, finding out the cost of living in your soon-to-be home. Once you figure that out, you probably need to look at salary comparisons too. If you're working in New York City, your salary in the Big Apple is probably going to be higher than in a similar post in the Midwest. Try to factor in the intangible costs as well. The move might give you a better quality of life-better schools for the kids, prettier location, more secure job, shorter commute times, more flexible schedule or proximity to cultural outlets. Even if you lose out on some cash, it might be worthwhile to make the move anyway.

If you're in a serious bind and you've been out of work for a while, a job offer in a less than desirable location might be an offer you can't refuse. But one word of advice from one unnamed finance professional: Buyers beware. Post-move they were laid off once again. While no one can predict the future, it's wise to consider what else you might be able to do in your new hometown, just in case the opportunity you're plotting to take simply doesn't work out.

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