Episode #82 – How Choosing Not to Relocate Can Kill Your Career Growth Potential

Samantha: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, search consultant Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary organizations hire top talent, while helping animal health and professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about relocating and career growth. Stacy, thank you for joining us.

Stacy: Hello, Samantha. I’m glad to be here.

Samantha: Stacy, the title of today’s podcast appears to be straight to the point, how choosing not to relocate can kill your career growth potential. Is that really the case? Is that how serious the inability or the unwillingness to relocate can be?

Stacy: Yes, I believe it is. We’ve talked before about how when a person has multiple options for growth in their career, that means they have more leverage. When you have more leverage, you have more opportunities and better chances to grow your career. Not being open to relocation limits your options and opportunities. By the same token, when you limit your options, you have less leverage and you have fewer chances to grow your career.

To get us started, there is a case study that stands out in my mind regarding relocation that I’d like to share.

Samantha: What is that?

Stacy: I once had a candidate tell me that she wanted to take the next step in their career. In their next breath, though, she said she only wanted to work in the Topeka, Kansas area.

Samantha: Just in that one area?

Stacy: Yes, only in a certain city in a certain state.

Samantha: That seems rather restrictive.

Stacy: It is, and there are a couple of questions that should be asked about the situation. These are questions that I pointed out to the candidate at the time.

First, if this person only restricted themselves to working in the Topeka area, to what extent do you believe she could take their career to the next level?

Second, if this person did NOT restrict themselves to working in the Topeka area and was open to relocating, to what extent do you believe she could take their career to the next level?

And then perhaps a third question might be appropriate: which of these two approaches is most conducive to career growth? Only restricting yourself to work in the Topeka area or NOT restricting yourself to only working in that area?

Samantha: I imagine that’s an easy question to answer. Not restricting yourself to just one geographic area is more conducive to career growth.

Stacy: That’s right. Now I’ve been an Animal Health recruiter and Veterinary recruiter for more than 20 years, so I’ve seen the issue of relocation numerous times. I’ve noticed there is a distinct pattern, and it involves pretty much the same issues for almost every candidate that encounters it.

Samantha: What issues are those?

Stacy: Well, relocation is a sensitive, personal, and subjective topic. I’d like to address all three of those aspects, starting with the first one, which is how sensitive it is.

As you might already know, Samantha, and as our listeners might already know, two of the most stressful events in a person’s life are getting a new job and moving. When you relocate for a new position, you’re basically combining two of the most stressful events in life into ONE event.

Samantha: Wow, that’s right. Either one of those things by themselves would be stressful enough. But when you combine them and you have to endure them at the same time, it’s even worse.

Stacy: Exactly. With that much potential stress involved, you can see why it would be so sensitive.

Then there’s the personal aspect of the whole situation. This involves the issue of family, which is specific to each person. A single person faced with relocation is one thing. If a person is married and has children and is faced with relocation, that changes the dynamics associated with the situation. Family adds an unmistakable personal element to the whole equation.

Samantha: So that means relocation is different for people based upon their family situation alone?

Stacy: Yes, but it’s also different for people based on other criteria, as well, which brings us to the personal aspect of it. Not everyone holds the same view about relocation, which makes sense because people hold differing views on many issues. After all, everyone has a different personality.

Some people are more likely to relocate than others, simply because of that. In addition, people have different preferences. What is important to one person might not be important to another.

This is why people must determine their individual priorities and their viewpoints about relocation.

Samantha: How should they do that?

Stacy: By asking themselves a series of questions. In fact, I have that series of questions with me today. This list is also available on The VET Recruiter website, if our listeners would like to check them out there.

These questions are designed to help professionals in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession determine the priorities they have for not just their career, but also for their life in general.

Here are the questions:

  • Is this position more beneficial for my family in regards to income and benefits?
  • Will our children be able to adjust to the move?
  • Will this part of the country that we are relocating to benefit my family?
  • Will my spouse be able to find a job?
  • Will this position be essential for furthering my career? Or not?
  • What will we gain or lose by relocating?

 

Samantha: Those are quite a few questions.

Stacy: Yes, but it’s necessary, since relocation is such a sensitive and personal issue. And if a professional does have a family, then they should discuss these questions and the answers to these questions with their family members. This is especially the case with a spouse or significant other.

As I mentioned, priorities are very subjective in nature. What is important to one person might not be that important to another. If a person has a spouse or significant other and/or a family, then they must come to an agreement about what is most important for the family. That requires an honest discussion of the situation. That’s because relocation can be a complex issue with multiple facets.

Samantha: Stacy, it seems to me that there is a lot of uncertainty involved in relocating for a new job. I imagine that’s why it’s so stressful. I can’t blame people for not wanting to relocate, especially if they have a family.

Stacy: That is very true. Relocating can be stressful, and because of that, many people are fearful of relocating.

However, and this is important, many times premier employment opportunities accompany relocation. In some instances, they represent quite possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I can say this with complete confidence because I have witnessed it on numerous occasions.

I have seen candidates presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that required relocation, and they accepted the position. On the other hand, I have seen candidates presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that required relocation, and they declined the position.

Samantha: Did they decline the position because of fear?

Stacy: In some cases, yes, people allow fear to get in the way of their career. Not only do they view it as stressful and uncomfortable, but they also view it as a risk. These professionals reject relocation because they put their FEAR of relocation ahead of the opportunity to grow their career.

Samantha: I don’t mean to play devil’s advocate, but could it be that the people with families really are putting their family before their career?

Stacy: Yes, I can understand the decision to not relocate because you believe you’re putting your family first and making them a priority. However, I can not understand the decision to not relocate because you’re allowing fear to rule your emotions and dictate your decisions.

If you’ve decided that your spouse and/or family is a reason not to move, then your career growth will be limited. And that’s fine. That is a personal decision that only you can make, and there is nothing wrong with the decision. However, there is a natural consequence of that decision.

Samantha: What consequence is that?

Stacy: If you make the decision to not make your career a priority, then you must expect that your career options will be limited. In fact, they could be severely limited.

Let’s take our Topeka example again. How many more employment opportunities are there throughout the entire United States as compared to just Topeka? Countless more opportunities. But if you’re not willing to relocate, then those opportunities might as well not even exist.

The bottom line is that if you choose to make other things a priority over your career, then that is absolutely fine. However, you can’t be shocked or upset when you realize that you have very limited career growth potential because of your decision. You can’t have it both ways. How does the old saying go? You can’t “have your cake and eat it, too.”

Samantha: Would it be fair to say that if a professional in the Animal Health industry or Veterinary profession decides that they can’t or don’t want to relocate, they should make sure they’re making that decision for the right reasons?

Stacy: That’s exactly what I’m saying. If a professional decides to make their family a priority over their career, then that should be the reason. However, choosing not to relocate because of fear or uncertainty is not the right reason.

Whatever the reason, though, there is a reality of the marketplace that professionals must understand and accept. If you are willing and able to relocate, then you will have more options, more opportunities, and more chances to grow your career than if you’re not willing and able to relocate. And it doesn’t matter what reasons you have for not being able to relocate. Your career will still be limited.

In fact, choosing not to relocate can kill your career growth potential, depending on where you live and the specific field in which you work.

Samantha: I can see why this is such a sensitive and personal issue for people. These are a number of decisions that are difficult to make.

Stacy: There are. That’s why this is an important issue for anyone who is serious about growing and advancing their career. There are simply more options and more opportunities available to those professionals who are willing to relocate.

Samantha: Stacy, thank you so much for this great information today. I’m sure it’s given our listeners a lot to think about.

Stacy: Thank you, Samantha. As always, I look forward to our next podcast!