I've been spending a lot of time looking at job boards and trolling through LinkedIn for opportunities in the past couple of weeks. I've even had a couple of conversations with recruiters and hiring offices, by phone and email. The problem has been that most of the jobs are not in the area where I live now.
Relocating for a job is a big move, but it's something I've done more than once. It's sort of an occupational requirement in the military. But we've just moved here, less than a year ago. We thought this was going to be our last move, and we're getting settled into the area. So whenever one of these employers asks me if I'm willing to relocate, I'm really hard pressed to answer. I've given it some thought, though, and what I've been saying is the simple truth.
"We've just moved into this area, and while we'd very much prefer to stay where we are, I'm always willing to consider relocating for the right opportunity." I think this is a fair answer to both me and the employer. I am willing to relocate, I'm just not eager to do so. And there are many factors that go into what makes up the "right opportunity." Of course, salary and benefits are right up there, but those would be a factor for any job. Of course, I haven't gotten that far in any discussions with employers, so that's moot for now.
One of the big factors is "Do I want to live in [insert city here]?" For 20 years of my military career, I have had almost no say whatsoever in where I lived. For the first time in a long time, I can go anywhere I want. I have two children in school -- does the new city have good schools? Are there cultural opportunities? Is it a "red state" or a "blue state," and is that the color state I want to live in? What's the weather like? Can I stand to shovel 3 feet of snow every couple of weeks in the winter? Does the very thought of 100-degree summer days make my brain melt?
I've been taking this sort of as-and-when for the past couple of weeks, but I realized today that there were so many more opportunities available if I just broadened my search radius. If I'm really "willing to relocate for the right opportunity," I need to sort those questions out now.
So Susie and I are going to get a map of the US -- a big one. We're going to look it over, and draw colored circles on it. Maybe green circles for "take any job offered here, it's our dream location" and red circles for "not for a million dollars." Blue circles could be for "you know, this place isn't that bad, but the pay would have to be a bit higher" and yellow circles for "gosh, I'm not thrilled with the city, but if the job is perfect and the pay is outstanding, sure."
Google will be our newest best friend. We'll know average rainfall and number of museums. We'll know if there's a minor league baseball team or a pro hockey team. We'll know if there's a light rail system or a draconian city recycling program.
Of course, being military has advantages here as well. We know someone, or someone who knows someone, from just about everywhere. Networking isn't just for job searching.
Once we've got a master list, then we'll have the info I need to be able to tell the recruiters, "Thank you for contacting me, I really appreciate the opportunity to talk to you and I'd love to work for your company, but my family and I aren't willing to relocate to Frostbite Falls right now."
Are you willing to relocate for a job? If so, would you take anything and go anywhere, or are you selective? If not, why not?