Negotiate a job-hunting
deal for your spouse when agreeing to relocate
If you're relocating because your spouse or partner
got a new job, it doesn't mean you'll be starting at ground zero
when looking for a job in your new hometown. The booming economy
means companies are bending over backward to hire good employees
and that means making their mates happy, too.
Kellie Alvarez and her husband Jerry were living in
Miami this past spring when Jerry got a job offer he couldn't refuse
from Johnson & Johnson in Jacksonville, Fla. For the first time
in her career, Kellie would be giving up her job without a new job
waiting for her.
"Jerry had his job and I had the job of taking care
of the move," she says. "Then, once we got there, I didn't have
anything to do. I'd never been out of work before. I was used to
having that income and I was very anxious."
Johnson & Johnson had a contract with The
IMPACT Group, a St. Louis consulting firm specializing in relocation
Kellie says her husband's relocation package contained
a survey for her to fill out and send to IMPACT. Within days, an
IMPACT consultant called asking about her interests. Kellie sent
them a copy of her resume which, by her own admission, was chronological
and made her look like a job hopper. A resume specialist reworked
it, focusing on Kellie's strengths and experience. IMPACT even sent
swatches of resume paper so she could select what she liked.
"They also did a lot of research on local employers
-- not so much on openings -- but they gave me the tools I needed,"
Those tools included a box of audiotapes containing
tips for interviewing.
Within three months, Kellie had a job with a commercial
real estate firm as a training and development manager.
"IMPACT alleviated my fears and it was a pleasant
experience. I have their service for up to a year. If anything happens
to my current position, they'll help me. They follow up, they call
every so often to see how things are going," says Kellie.
Don't be shy
Laura Herring, president and chief executive officer at The IMPACT
Group, says a survey done by her company in the spring of 1999 shows
71 percent of the responding companies offer spouse/partner assistance
in their relocation policy. Most companies farm this type of work
out to specialists, and Herring says spouses and partners shouldn't
be shy about asking for help.
"They should ask for someone to talk to. Someone to
bounce things off of who isn't related to the company," says Herring.
"That gets rated the highest -- having someone at the other end
of the line -- a transition coach -- to share everything, the good,
the bad, the anger and frustration."
Herring says the consultant should help identify what
companies and resources there are in the new location for the spouse.
The names of contact people in those companies should be provided.
In addition, the spouse should be given interview coaching if needed,
and a professional resume.
It isn't just spouses who can expect help in finding
a new job. IMPACT's survey shows 24 percent of responding companies
provide assistance to same-sex partners and 30 percent assist unmarried
Scott Knudsen, manager of relocation services at State
Farm Insurance headquarters in Bloomington, Ill., says spouse/partner
assistance is one of the benefits they offer to attract good employees.
"Dual careers, all the ties they're leaving behind
... in the days of the Cleaver residence it was no big deal to pick
up and go -- now it is. Now, we're living it day to day -- this
is this family's situation and we need to be aware of it," says
Second income is a key factor
In fact, according to a 1996 study by the Conference Board, a New
York consulting firm, spouse employment was the No. 1 reason people
refused to relocate.
"There's a lot of reliance on the second income --
it's not that easy to replace," says the board's Deborah Parkinson.
That kind of pressure is pushing corporate America
to rely on companies that specialize in relocation transition, such
as IMPACT and Career
Partners International/R.W. Caldwell Associates in Buffalo,
Bob Caldwell says today's consultants have to do a
lot more than polish a resume.
"With the spouse we have to be more proactive to introduce
the spouse to employment opportunities. Anyone who's been in business
a long time, as we have, builds a network of companies that we do
business with routinely," says Caldwell. "They know us and we're
eager to send new employees to them."
When it comes to relocation, spouses and partners
may want to consider another employment angle, says Beverly
Roman, the Wilmington, N.C.-based author of several books on
"The spouse shouldn't assume they'll have to give up their job.
Lots of people work from a distance," says Roman. "We communicate
very well through e-mail, faxes, sending files over the Internet.
Think about ways to telecommute. Develop a plan and present it to
For those who do need to quit their job and find a
new employer, Kellie Alvarez has some advice.
"It's important to take the time to read through the
relocation package," she says. "My husband probably didn't care,
but I said, 'Give it to me.' It has everything, including how to
get reimbursed. Read what the new company gives you, there's a lot
Here are some of the most common forms of assistance
companies are offering spouses and partners, according to The IMPACT
- Resume preparation
- Job search services
- School information
- Community research information
- Child care information
- Elder care referrals
- Emotional transition support
-- Posted: July 7, 2004