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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Moving for a job? Be prepared to pay the price

Fewer companies offering relocation assistance to potential hires

If you’re thinking about relocating for a new job, there’s a good chance you may have to cover your own moving costs, even if you’ve got a job offer.

When you search for openings on the major job boards lately, lots of the ads say: “No relocation assistance is provided.” For those positions that do offer to pay moving costs, the payments are often capped, sometimes below $10,000. With the typical corporate relocation costing about $60,000 for homeowners and $18,000 for renters, according to Worldwide ERC, such an expense can cause economic hardship for job seekers. That is, if you’re lucky enough to even get a job offer when applying for jobs in other towns, states or countries.

Some employers aren’t even looking at out-of-town applicants these days because there are so many great candidates right in their own backyards, recruitment experts said. Others don’t want to have to deal with an employee who might not be able to sell their hometo move, thanks to the dismal housing market.

That’s bad news for job seekers looking to relocate to a region with more job opportunities.

“A lot of people are landlocked because companies want to pay less, not more, to bring in new talent,” said Nancy Keene, director at recruiting firm Stanton Chase. If two candidates have similar credentials, she added, the local guy or gal is likely to get the gig.

When the economy is strong, employers sometimes go to great lengths to find the best talent no matter where they live. Before the recession, that meant lucrative relocation packages that covered moving expenses, house-hunting trips, and even money toward selling a house or buying a new one, especially for executive-level employees.

But now, such perks are being cut just like so many other employee benefits.

Don’t expect any help
An October poll conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 19 percent of companies had cut employee benefits in the last six months because of the economy. Among those:

* 17 percent eliminated corporate-relocation programs entirely.

* 25 percent froze corporate-relocation programs.

* 58 percent reduced corporate-relocation programs.

And that means more job seekers who want to move to accept a new position are on their own.

“We see a huge trend of people moving for jobs but paying for their own relocation,” said Kimberly Smith, founder of CorporateHousingByOwner.com and owner of corporate housing company AvenueWest Corporate Housing. Many of those individuals who are also homeowners are becoming “accidental landlords,” she said, because they are forced to rent out their home.

Another problem is employers who choose not to hire job applicants or relocate existing workers to other company locations due to the decline in home values, Smith said.

She gave the example of one woman who worked for a major bank in Atlanta who was up for a prime transfer to the company’s London office but didn’t get the job because she was underwater on her mortgage. The bank didn’t want to deal with the financial issues related to the employee’s house, Smith said.

“There are lots of things employers can’t discriminate against you for, but the value of your home they can,” she said.

Industries that have tightened their belts on relocation costs include publishing, manufacturing, some consumer products, banking and finance, said Bill Humphrey with Xonex Relocation, a corporate relocation company.

Midlevel managers and rank-and-file workers are most likely to have to pay moving costs out of their own pocket. Workers hired to fill highly specialized and skilled jobs are still seeing most of their moving costs covered, he said.

Humphrey also has seen some companies offer assistance with underwater mortgages for key executive relocations, but the amount is usually capped at $10,000 to $20,000.

For the Rest Of MSNBC Article

By Eve Tahmincioglu
msnbc.com contributor


  1. Indeed this is a great point to look out for, you may think that, that new job offer is too good to be true, but overlook this part of the deal, which will definitely cut into your bottom line, try and think how long would I have to work there before I recover this expense?...


    Thanks and Regards

    Noel for PrudentialVanlines.com
    local moving company

  2. The elimination of paying for relocation expenses is yet another example of corporate American not appreciating the value of their employees. This perk joins the growing list of vanishing benefits, such as no matching 401(k) and no health insurance. Again it is an example of how corporate America "cuts off its nose to spite its face" by worshiping at the altar of short-term, stock-boosting business plans. American corporations will continue to falter in global competitiveness until their CEO's and executive management stop paying themselves obscenely high compensation and begin treating their employees as valued assets rather than disposable commodities. To say that high levels of compensation are necessary to attract and retain executive talent is a fallacy. There will always be a pool executive talent rabid to prove their abilities at managing a top global corporation; even if it entails a substantially lower compensation package. The CEO's and executive directors currently believe in the lowest possible compensation policy for their lower level employees, but throw a "hissy-fit" when there is talk of applying it to them. It may take a generation or two to fade the current crop of "robber baron" executives into the pages of history, but in the interim this pay scale shift will decrease the number of business students in the American secondary education institutions and increase the number of science and engineering students.

  3. Relocation benefits vary with market conditions just like any other benefit, no point wringing your hands over it. Negotiate for what you can get and consider the total package, cost and benefits, tangible and intangible.

  4. I recently had to relocate when I changed jobs, and experienced this for myself. Moving isn't cheap, unfortunately. I probably won't ever move again without some sort of relocation assistance. It's just too hard on the wallet.


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