Ask the Professors: How Important is Relocation to Attracting Talent

When it comes to relocation, this is usually the most stressful for those candidates coming right out of college, so we talked with several professors from around the US and asked them to answer the following question: How important do you think offering relocation is to attracting talent?

Developing a solid and loyal team for your company is arguably one of the most important aspects of running a successful business, so it makes sense to spend a great deal of time interviewing potential employees and finding that perfect fit. On the flip side, candidates also need to be able to find a company that suites their needs and passions in order to really tap into what you need to be a strong team player. This then brings up the question of relocation.

When it comes to relocation, this is usually the most stressful for those candidates coming right out of college, so we talked with several professors from around the US and asked them to answer the following question:

How important do you think offering relocation is to attracting talent?

We talked with a variety of Professors and got several different angles on this question, including everything from their own personal experiences with relocation, the experiences they see students go through, and well as their own knowledge as a Professor of Business or their work with other companies in the past. Below are some of the excellent answers we received:

Robin Cheramie. Kennesaw State University Chair and Associate Professor of Management & Entrepreneurship.

Employers, ultimately, want to hire highly qualified candidates and offering incentives to your top candidates may help the employer in the selection process. More and more employees are willing to relocate; however, they may be willing to turn down a job offer if help is not provided with these expenses. Employers do not always advertise their willingness to pay for relocation; therefore, candidates should ask for this in the negotiation process. Many employers are providing less relocation packages but may consider these expenses for the 'right' employee. Even if an employer is only willing to pay a 'lump-sum' toward relocation expenses, it could be more than the competitor is willing to pay. If so, then the qualified candidate would be more willing to accept a job offer with the employer paying for some of the expenses over no expenses being paid at all.

Thomas J. Armitage. Adjunct Professor of Public Relations at Utica College.

It’s hard to find great talent. As someone who lives in a small area but works in a big industry, I’ve seen how challenging it can be for businesses to find fitting individuals for very specific positions. I think it’s extremely important for companies to have relocation perks within an offering. In addition to greatly extending the talent pool beyond driving distance of your location, it also shows your level of seriousness in qualified candidates and can make a big impact in employee satisfaction. In this social world we live in, it’s much easier to find openings for very niche positions. But without relocation, it can be hard to fill those gaps with the right people. 

Sheila Baiers. Human Resources Management Professor at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

Relocation packages are directly tied to supply and demand of good talent.  In the 70's, 80's and even early 90’s is was very common.  When unemployment rates started becoming higher, it was the first thing companies cut back on in their recruitment. Now you will pretty much see relocation on the 2nd or 3rd tiered jobs, meaning the higher up the food chain the better the package. It is still important but it is definitely not as common or as lucrative as the 80's. This is a pretty complex subject due to the fact that in the past you had to sell your house you could not just walk away from a mortgage.  Now people can and do just walk away from a mortgage.

Karen Freberg. Ph.D, University of Louisville

I think offering relocation for talent depends on the situation of course. I think starting off on a good foot with support to make the move and transition easy is always good. If the move goes well, this sets the tone for the overall culture and experience for the professional and company.

Cristina Picozzi. Assistant Director of Annual Giving at Worcester Polytechnic Institute

I’m currently a fundraiser for an engineering school in New England and as someone who relocated for their position, having a package at my level wasn’t necessary to pique my interest in the position. My position is considered entry level, so when I was offered the job three years ago I knew that there was a small chance of relocation package. I do believe that if it had been a higher position and the qualifications needed were greater, I would’ve expected something to help ease the financial burden. I will say, however, that my move was from New York to Massachusetts, a four-hour relocation is a bit different than if I was moving across the country, but it worked for me.

Apryl Brodersen. Ph.D., Associate Professor, Management Department, Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Offering relocation assistance can offer a huge competitive advantage to companies trying to attract top talent, particularly for key positions. Your “best and brightest” candidates don’t always live where you do. These will also be the candidates with the most options – they’re likely already employed, so you must first need to convince them to leave their current job. Even if they’ve already decided to make a move, you will still need to convince them to choose YOU over the other opportunities they’ll undoubtedly have.

Moving is a timely, costly, and stressful experience. In making a decision to come work for you, candidates will most definitely weigh whether accepting the job will be worth the upheaval that comes with relocation. Offering some sort of assistance will help alleviate some of this pressure. More importantly, it sends a strong message to candidates that your company values, invests in, and commits to its people from the start.

Channing Lawson. Assistant Director of Young Alumni & Student Programming at University of North Carolina Greensboro.

I work with young alumni and students, but I do have a student interactive component that might help best answer this question. I started applying for jobs well before I graduated even, and it was a huge strain when they asked me about relocation because that was one thing I couldn’t manage on my own. I was a recent grad and didn’t have much money after student loans, so I remember thinking that if there was any way they could have done a relocation package, even 200 or 300 dollars, that would have really helped. I don’t know how everyone else feels, but a relocation stipend would open many door for many different people with great talent.

I applied for jobs from California to London to Canada and Australia. I’d love to work at any of those places other than Kentucky because I’m young and it’s the right time to move around and see the world and work with different people. However, when companies don’t offer a relocation package then that’s out of the question, and that’s too bad because I had the drive and passion to make it happen, all I needed was a way to move. I’m sure many others with talent are in the same situation.

Beth Kahlich. Digital Marketing Expert at The Search Engine Academy.

As a board member of the Dallas Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association (DFWSEM), I have contact with a wide range of company owners. We have all been noticing a shortage of experienced talent in the local market lately—great news, the economy is doing better! However, this shortage has caused many companies to rethink their hiring practices, and I definitely think relocation is an option that is on the table. Really, I believe it has to do with the size of the company. Larger companies are more likely to offer relocation, such as paying for moving expenses. Smaller agencies will have to determine if this is a wise use of their overall human resources budget, but if the talent is right, they may consider offering such an employment package.

Categories: Moving Tips