I’m going to make some assumptions to start:
- you’re a relatively recent post-secondary grad (either from a college, university or trades program)
- you’re in your mid 20’s to early 30’s
- you are not yet “established” – the job you’re working is either hourly, contract, or very limited in its advancement opportunities. It also limits your lifestyle from a financial perspective (ie. doesn’t pay that well)
- you do not have children
So you’re out of school, maybe even for a few years, and you are finding that gainful employment is harder to come by than you thought it would be with a degree. Sure there are jobs available, but almost all are hourly or contract and entry level – and even those are hard to get interviews for.
I have been on the other side of that equation as the interviewer more than a few times in the last five years. I’ve said to myself on many occasions “I can’t believe how many applications I’ve received for this position, and how high the level of qualification is”. The scales are clearly tipped in favour of the employer in the areas of Canada where economies are not booming.
to break the cycle, you’re considering (or have already begun) applying to companies that are recruiting for those areas that ARE booming – Saskatchewan, Alberta, St. John’s, various Northern outposts or on an international assignment. As luck would have it, you get an offer that requires you to relocate, at least for a period of time…..do you take it?
There are pros and cons…so how do you weigh them? Everyone will have their own opinion but hopefully we can at least lay out some of the things you can expect.
- Moving is inconvenient: you have to pack up everything, figure out how to get it there, then unpack and sort it all again. If it’s a short assignment, you might have to do it again in the not-too-distant future. Hopefully at this point in your life, you haven’t accumulated a ton of belongings.
- You’re leaving friends, family, the safety net of your parents home is always available if you can’t find work, and probably most importantly: your comfort zone. Not all of us are wired to be carefree globetrotters who set out to see the world on our own, most of us need at least one companion to venture out into the unknown
- If you’re in a relationship, you’re in a tough spot. Do you ask that person to go with you,try long distance, or just call it quits? Good luck with this one, there’s no easy answer.
- The Cost of Living may be higher – ie, if you’re getting a 20% raise but the cost of living is 30% higher, your purchasing power is actually decreasing (we can tell you this before you make any decisions, just ask us)
- If you’re going somewhere remote, your social life will probably suffer. There is something great about every place in this country, but if you are going somewhere remote, you will be bored…sometimes very very bored. The internet and other digital media helps, but if you’re a social butterfly you had better prepare yourself for solitude.
- It’s a step towards becoming established. You’re probably going to make more money than you are right now (almost always the primary bait that is dangled to get you to take the transfer). Having just recently gotten in the neighbourhood of being “established” myself, I can tell you that its not some golden carrot-mirage or buzzword that parents and professors throw around, it means you get to enjoy some of lifes nicer things while your bank account balance at least maintains. It doesn’t mean flying your G6 to the islands every weekend, but it does mean being able to burn through $200 at the bar in a weekend without worrying about making rent. It is truly and honestly a great feeling knowing that you’ve earned your way into the realm of financial independence.
- its going to get you relevant experience which is probably more important than the increase in pay. Having that experience will open up doors for advancement with the same company or another in the same industry because hiring managers rely heavily on experience for vetting resumes. As a person in a position to influence how my company hires, I will take aptitude over experience every time…however aptitude is a much more elusive trait to define and a track record of success within the industry (relevant experience) is one of its indicators. So, compiling this experince will let you look good on paper, which will give you an advantage when applying for more senior positions down the road when you get to be a little pickier about location and pay.
- If you’re going somewhere that you wanted to see anyway, the destination itself is one of the highlights. Have a look at this video, which is about an experience that one of our customers had while on assignment in 1989 in Berlin: http://review.bellmedia.ca/view/430496112
- The organization that is relocating you very likely has room for you to advance: In our experience as a relocation management company for corporate clients, the organizations that spend money to relocate employees are either very large or see a great deal of potential in the employee whom they are paying to move. In either case, that leaves plenty of room for growth when you are that employee.
Things that can Soften the Cons:
– Most companies will offer you something to help you move – a budget of a few thousand dollars to get your stuff there and get your life set up. (Shameless plug: This is where a relocation company can be very helpful – help to budget, help to choose services and suppliers, help with how to optimize your income tax situation at the end)
– If you’re moving to a major centre, there’s a pretty good chance that you know people there already – highschool and university friends who you may have lost touch with a little bit, but that’s what social media is for. Find yourself a social circle at destination so you don’t get cabin fever and regret the move shortly after arrival.
– if you’re moving somewhere you don’t know anyone (remote outposts or major centres), then find yourself a relo buddy – someone who you know who’s considering relocating to the same place. Since you went to school for the same thing as many of your post-secondary compatriates, this is probably a good place to look for someone applying in the same fields to the same places. Again, social media will be a godsend. From my graduating class in St. Catharines ON, I know of more than one person living in Dawson City YK, Fort McMurray AB and Terrace BC, and many many more in the larger centres. The only common thread that these people had was a simlar field of education. Again, a social circle at destination is a must to keep doubts from creeping in.
– If you’re in a relationship and that person is willing to go with you, maybe they can be your relocation buddy. I have seen this work in my own social circles, and I have seen it explode. *please don’t try this unless you’re really sure that person is going to be in your life for a while, this process will force you together both emotionally and in terms of living space…be as sure as you can be before attempting this.
– Electronic entertainment is great for places where there is very little to do: get yourself an external hard drive and fill it.
Ultimately, we are all striving for that freedom 55 plan (or 45…or 35) or some version of it. We all want financial freedom and we all want a career we love. So if the opportunity to start down a path that leads to those things more quickly exists in another location, you will probably never be more able to take advantage of that than you are now. At some point, most of us have roots that tie us to a location: a spouse, kids or family, a home or investments, etc. If you have the opportunity and ability to take a leap forward in your financial establishment amid a period where young adults are struggling more than ever before to get established, wouldn’t you be wise to do so? It might cost you a few years of ideal lifestyle, but you may also experience some great things while on assignment and maybe even like one of your destinations that you stay there forever.