Why Not Being Able to Relocate may be a Career-Limiting Move

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

Using that example, let’s think about a couple of questions for just a minute.

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

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

Or perhaps a third question is appropriate: which of these two approaches is most conducive to career growth?

3 points of important interest

As a search consultant for more than 20 years, I’ve seen the issue of relocation pop up for job seekers and candidates numerous times. Relocation is a sensitive, personal, and subjective topic. Here’s what I mean by that:

Sensitive—Two of the most stressful events in person’s life is 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. With that much potential stress involved, you can see why it would be so sensitive.

Personal—Adding to the potential stress involved with relocation is the issue of family. 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 quite dramatically. Family adds an unmistakable personal element to the entire equation.

Subjective—Not everybody holds the same view about relocation, and that’s the case for a number of reasons. First, everyone has a different personality. Some people are more likely to relocate than others, simply because of that. In addition, people have different preferences and priorities. What is important to one person might not be important to another.

I’d like to explore this last point in more detail, specifically preferences and priorities. Determining your priorities—what is most important to YOU—is crucial when tackling the topic of relocation and how it affects your career and the decisions you make about your career.

Questions for determining your priorities

To help with this discussion, I’m going to borrow some questions from The VET Recruiter website. These questions are designed to help job seekers and candidates determine the priorities they have for not just their career, but also for their life in general. After all, your career is a big part of your life, is it not?

When determining your priorities in the face of possible relocation, you should ask yourself the following 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?

If you do have a family, be sure to discuss these questions (and more importantly, the answers to these questions) with your family members. This is especially the case with your spouse. Also research the area to which you will be moving.

As I mentioned above, priorities are very subjective in nature. What is important to one person might not be that important to another. If you have a spouse and/or a family, then you must come to an agreement regarding what is most important for the family. That will require an honest discussion of the situation. That’s because relocation is not something to be dismissed automatically.

Fear and the reality of the situation

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. In other words, 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 once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that required relocation, and they declined the position.

Unfortunately, some people allow fear to get in the way of their career. They view relocation as an uncomfortable situation. They view it as a risk that they can’t take.

These candidates reject relocation not because they’re putting their family, their children, or some other priority above their careers. They reject relocation because they put their FEAR of relocation above the opportunity to grow their careers. 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.

The fact of the matter is that not being able to relocate can be a career-limiting move. That is the reality of the situation and of the marketplace.

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.

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

If you make the decision to not make your career a priority, then you can not expect that your career options and opportunities will be limitless.

An example of this is the candidate who wanted to take their career to the next level, but ONLY if they were able to take a position in the Topeka, Kansas area. How many career-changing, life-altering opportunities do you think were available in Topeka at that time? A limited amount. How many such opportunities do you think were available around the world?

These are the questions that every job seeker and candidate should ask themselves when they’re faced with the issue of relocation.

We help support careers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary Profession one of two ways: 1. By helping to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of organizations. If this is something you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.