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From Marc Cenedella
Marc Cenedella

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Salary

Will Companies Still Pay You to Relocate?

Relocation packages seem extinct. As the economy heats up, is it worth negotiating for such a benefit?

By William Greenwald
FILED UNDER: Benefits, Salary Negotiation.
Salary

Common wisdom dictates that relocation packages have all but dried up since the 2008 economic downturn, along with other bonuses, perks and benefits.

But recruiters, job seekers and relocation specialists who spoke to TheLadders said reasonable relocation packages are still available to a short list of candidates.

The bottom line, according to Tom Lindsay, a national account manager at the engineering staffing firm Think Resources: If a company has its eyes on you, they might be willing to fund your move. Just don’t expect them to buy your current home and hire a landscaper for the new place.

It wasn’t that long ago that executives of a certain rank took it for granted that companies willing to hire them were also willing to pay such expenses.

“E.F.,” a director at a fabricated components firm who asked to remain anonymous, received a comprehensive relocation package when she accepted a new job in 2004 and again in 2006 when she accepted another. In the first package, the hiring company funded her transition from the Midwest to Mexico, which included purchasing her three-bedroom, 1,100-square-foot house. The house sat on the market for several months before the firm bought it at the appraised price. Two years later, she moved back to the Midwest. In that second move, the firm paid all logistical costs and gave her a two-month relocation bonus.

Now E.F. is looking for a new job in tighter economic times and unsure what sort of compensation to expect or request, if she accepts a job that requires her to relocate.

According to Lindsay, a national account manager at the engineering staffing firm Think Resources, relocation packages have changed over the past few decades, but they’re definitely still a possibility. E.F.’s experience with the company buying her home, however, is atypical.

“About 75 percent of our client firms offer relocation assistance of some kind for permanent positions,” Lindsay said. “It used to be (25 years ago) that a lot of companies would provide ‘full’ relocation, which includes buying the old home if necessary. Now, very, very few offer ‘full’ packages.”

Lindsay noted that he hasn’t seen a significant drop in companies willing to relocate over the past few years, though the hiring landscape has changed as firms rely less on outside recruiters. “A company who is still willing to pay us a (25 percent to 30 percent) fee for placement has already budgeted another $10,000 for relocation.” But he qualified that by saying that the number of companies willing to pay that (25 to 30 percent) fee have become fewer.

What is covered is less now than what was once available, said Roxanne Korostowski, director of relocation operations at XONEX Relocation, which helps businesses develop and manage employee relocations.

Full home buy-outs like the one in E.F.’s 2004 package are almost nonexistent. “Companies are scaling back their ‘Guaranteed Buyout Program,’ ” Korostowski said. “Companies are not in the business to own homes, so they have been limiting this benefit to [corporate officer-level] new hires or transferees.”

According to Lindsay, the typical relocation package now offers to cover:

  • Some or all of cost of moving the household and family to the new location
  • Househunting trips
  • Closing costs
  • Rent or temporary housing for a short period of time upon arrival

What has changed even more drastically is who is now considered eligible for a package, Korostowski said.

Some companies have limited relocation packages to internal hires, where they feel the best person is already working for the company, simply in a different location. For many of them, the relocation cost still beats the cost of hiring a new employee, she said.

William Greenwald is a general assignment reporter for TheLadders.

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