- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Relocate for Your Dream Job?
by Heidi L. Russell, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: Crete Carrier

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You hear of a perfect job. It fits your skill set and promises attractive career advancement opportunities. The only problem is that you have to relocate. After a military career flush with multiple Permanent Change of Stations, are you willing to pull up stakes again? Should you be?

military careerIn this economic climate, you might think experts would advise you to grab whatever is available, wherever it is. But this decision isn’t that cut-and-dry and more often resembles the tip of a submerged iceberg of hidden ramifications. Here’s how to evaluate whether relocation is right for you.

Analyze your niche. Sometimes, relocation can’t be helped if nearly all of the jobs within your field are concentrated in a particular geographic region, says Steve Ziegler, co-founder of TriWorth, a nationwide talent acquisition firm with two headquarters in Chicago and Denver.

“If you’re graduating and want to be an investment banker, there are only a handful of cities that allow you to pursue the career: San Francisco or New York, for example,” Ziegler says. By contrast, there are up to 75,000 technical engineering jobs prevalent throughout the United States, so you can cherry-pick your location. “So with that type of field, if you wanted to be in Birmingham, Ala., then focus your career on that location,” he adds.

Additionally, lower-level paying jobs will have a lot more availability in all markets than high-paying, executive level or niche positions, he says.

Analyze the company’s relocation support offerings. HR people should be the catalyst to make your move easier, whether your concerns are health-related or understanding the housing market, Ziegler says. Their response to your relocation needs will reflect the type of culture you can expect if you move, he says. He recruited someone for Microsoft-North Dakota, which has a lot of employees in Fargo. The person was concerned about leaving Los Angeles, because their son, who had cystic fibrosis, needed access to its great hospitals, Ziegler says.

“The HR person was great. There was another employee in that location whose daughter had the same condition, and they made a connection. It turns out there was a strong community and great hospitals in Minneapolis.”

That said, except for those largest companies that frequently relocate employees, it’s not that common to find similar resources among smaller entities, says Caroline Ceniza-Levine. She’s co-founder of SixFigureStart, which helps people find fulfilling and financially rewarding careers. She’s also co-author of “Six Steps to Job Search Success” (2011, Flat World Knowledge) and the best-selling “How the Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times” (2010, Two Harbors Press).

If you interview at a company with that type of offering, it indicates a supportive culture, she says. And, you can also take the initiative, ask HR for assistance in getting to know the area.

“Even if there isn’t formal relocation assistance, they may be able to pair you up with local employees who can give you the inside scoop. Make sure you mention that you’re a military veteran and see if they can pair you up with another vet who might be able to give you help specific to your situation,” Ceniza-Levine says.

Analyze your quality-of-life goals. At the end of the day, your job is one aspect of your life, Ceniza-Levine says. “You will be on the job only some of the time, but you’ll be living in that geography 24/7 once you move. Obviously, if you get a great opportunity in a place you hadn’t considered, by all means, research it and remain open-minded. But there’s also something to be said for picking where you want to live and launching a job search targeted to that area,” she says.

Analyze your family’s needs, Ziegler says. “Especially if you’ve moved so much, do you really want to put the stress on your family? Where do you really want to be? Where is home? And if you’re a single guy, you may be adventurous. Then relocating is a different way to go. You can just take off to Chicago and start your post military career, even if you’ve never been there.”

Choosing between two similar jobs in disparate geographies? Ceniza-Levine offers these tips:

- Try to visit both. No substitute exists for being on the ground, seeing neighborhoods block by block, actually visiting the school where you would send your kids, and attending a religious service or touring the community center, she says.

- Read the local news for each area. With hyperlocal online news sites, such as AOL’s, it’s easier to get a feel for the neighborhood.

- Contact the local Chamber of Commerce and see if someone can send you a welcome packet of information about the area.

- Peruse the local classifieds to get a true sense of housing costs, grocery costs and area events.

“Finally, in addition to choosing based on the quality of life, compare both job prospects in light of what matters most to you,” she says. “Is it job security? Is it compensation? Is it possibility for advancement? Is it the type of work? Don’t only compare geographies, but compare job and long-term post military career prospects.”

Arming yourself with knowledge is key to any decision.

Freelancer Heidi L. Russell is a reporter with 19 years of experience who writes about employment and business issues.


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