How to Negotiate Job Relocation


What do you do if a candidate has to relocate?

Wondering how to negotiate job relocation? Recruiting top executive talent means that you have to cover a lot of ground. It is no longer the standard quo to only search within your state or region anymore. If you want to find the best candidate for your company, you have to look nationally — and sometimes even internationally.

Your chances of finding the perfect match for your needs improve as you widen the search area. Of course, when you do find the right candidate, you are often faced with relocation issues. As difficult as it is to find qualified executive candidates, you may find the negotiation process even more difficult when the candidate has to relocate. Fewer and fewer people are willing to move for a new job.

When job relocation is involved, the complexities involved with hiring shoot through the roof. There are so many other factors involved besides the job opportunity itself, the compensation you’re offering and your company culture. Here are some relocation negotiation strategies to keep in mind the next time your top candidate has to relocate.

Location Matters

Suddenly, you find yourself having to promote your location as well as your company. You may think it would be easy to do if your company is based in Hawaii, for example, but it’s just as difficult a sell as if your company is based in Peoria. Candidates have many factors to consider when weighing a job offer when a relocation package is involved:

  • Real estate costs

  • Cost of living

  • Housing preference

  • Climate preference

  • Distance from family and friends

  • Commute times

So while Peoria can’t offer the tropical climate and beaches of Hawaii, a job offer from Hawaii means a significant increase in the cost of living and more expensive travel back to the mainland. In other words, when a candidate has to relocate, even a move to Hawaii is not a slam-dunk decision for every person.

Family Matters

Kids at a school

If an executive candidate has to relocate, there’s a very good chance his whole family will have to relocate too. That opens the door to questions about the spouse’s job — how much the family depends on it or how important it is to the spouse.

If children are involved, the candidate may want to know about the school system in your location, as well as the neighborhoods and amenities. Furthermore, the family might not want to move until the school year ends. Asking a candidate to move away from his family for more than a month is often a recipe for failure.

Opportunity Matters

While your company may offer career advancement and a generous raise, executives often look ahead for future growth opportunities. So even if your company is offering the best short-term opportunity, what comes next may be equally important to a candidate.

There will always be people who favor urban environments over rural (and vice versa), but an urban environment offers more career opportunities than a rural one. If a candidate has to relocate for his next job, will he have to relocate again for the next? Some executive candidates ask this question, albeit to themselves, so it’s definitely something to consider and maybe even bring up when you are in the middle of negotiating relocation.

Strategies to Use When Offering a Relocation Package

If you’ve found the best match for your executive position, you want to ensure that he won’t turn down your offer because of job relocation issues. The way to approach the candidate — even before you make the offer — is to determine the likelihood that he wants to move to your location. You can do this as part of the interview process. Negotiate job relocation with the following tips in mind.

  1. Keep All Options Open. When a candidate has to relocate, you’d be wise to be open to negotiating relocation. Present the candidate with a flexible onboarding timeline. Offer realtor services. Offer assistance with integrating the candidate’s family into the new location. If you really want to hire this particular candidate, make it as easy as possible for him to accept your offer.

  2. Talk About the Weather. Asking about the weather may seem like idle chit-chat, but it can reveal the candidate’s preferred climate. Ask about any outdoor hobbies or sports. Find out if he and his family are active outside the home. You can use all the information you discover when promoting and negotiating relocation.

  3. Engage in Friendly Conversation. When you open up about your preferences, it encourages the candidate and makes it feel less like an interrogation. By being friendly, you can probe into the city-versus-country preference and whether the candidate has strong familial or experiential ties to his current location. Before you offer the job, find out if he’s even willing to move.

  4. Keep the Family in Mind. Remember that the family also moves when the candidate has to relocate. Make sure you can speak knowledgeably about the cost of living, neighborhoods, schools, and even the crime rate… everything you think might be relevant. Whenever possible, take the whole family on a tour of your location, showing off the family-friendly attractions.

  5. Be Prepared. Know the answers to the most obvious questions. If the candidate asks a question you weren’t expecting, let him know you’ll find out and supply an answer as soon as possible. You should find out as much as you can about the candidate’s expectations, requirements and desires. You should know, before the candidate does, whether he will seriously consider the job offer. Then you can have a relocation package ready to go as well.

  6. Stay Flexible, Mostly. Your best candidate may not be able to make up his mind right away. There may be extenuating circumstances, or the candidate may have another job offer. Be flexible, but be strong too. If a candidate is vacillating, you can help the process along by listing the reasons not to move. That will impress any candidate and help forward the process.

  7. Take Care of the Little Things. When a candidate has to relocate, he’s faced with many unknowns. Make it as easy as possible for him to accept your offer. Arrange a meeting with a real estate agent. Introduce him to a respected banker, a good insurance agent and an honest mechanic. Going the extra mile can really make a difference when negotiating relocation.

Every Case Is Different

Would you like to relocate to Honolulu, Hawaii?

Sometimes, your attempts to promote the new location are unnecessary. There are executives, especially more senior executives, who want to move from their current location. Maybe they are seeking a warmer place to call home. Perhaps they want to move back closer to where they grew up or where most of their family lives. Maybe they are approaching retirement age and want to find a new location they can enjoy now…and later.

When a candidate has to relocate, you must consider all the factors. The only way to determine how likely a candidate is to accept an out-of-town job is to ask the necessary questions. The candidate can’t be a perfect match if he isn’t willing to relocate where you need him to be.

Compensation Matters

Salary is not the most important thing, but the full compensation package you are offering is definitely a factor in attracting qualified executive candidates. Top candidates place priorities on other factors as well. Moving a family is disruptive. While it might be the right decision when a candidate has to relocate, it’s not a decision he will make lightly. It’s up to you to be the guide, the salesman and the mentor. The right relocation package may be the golden ticket to securing the candidate of your dreams.

The Author

Straight from the desk of

Kimmel & Associates

Kimmel & Associates

Marketing & Communcations

Kimmel is an executive search firm located in Asheville, North Carolina. Our professional recruiters are committed to exceeding client expectations. They work with the same dedication, honesty, and attitude of service that has been the Kimmel standard for over 34 years.

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