New York, Seattle, London – today more than ever it’s beneficial to change employers and locations several times in the span of a career. What are the challenges associated with making such a move, both professionally and personally, and how will you master them?
The fallacy of the “lifer”
In the recent past, it was considered an honor to both the employer and the employee if the latter stayed working within the company for his/her entire career. Being a “lifer” is no longer the key to success, however, as today’s employers prefer their incoming employees to have already worked in several other companies upon starting. It’s beneficial if new employees already have relevant experiences and an idea of company culture.
Radical change of environment
It’s possible that the next best step in your career will be found in a different city than the one in which you’re currently living. If this is the case and you decide to move forward in your career, you’ll have to deal with not only a work environment change, but also a change to your private life; new apartment/house, new social circle, etc.
For some this can be seen as a welcome change and an exciting opportunity. Getting out of a familiar environment and the “comfort zone” is a great way to expand your personality and character, after all. It’s especially great for managers and professionals, because as they adjust to all of the changes in their environment, they’ll learn valuable coping mechanisms. These can be extremely useful not only in personal but also in professional settings.
It’s all relative
Of course, the willingness of specialists and managerial staff to move depends on their respective life situations. University graduates, younger workers and top managers, for example, are more intermittent and mobile than middle-aged experts and workers with families.
Younger workers are usually not yet firmly rooted in a region and want to develop further. They are well aware that this won’t happen easily without their willingness to travel. Top managers usually also do not view moving as a problem. They are typically more accustomed to reorienting themselves geographically, as adequate employers are usually not found in the same city.
Relocation and family challenges
Professionals and managers of middle age with young families are more likely to doubt whether they should accept their dream job in another city. They are concerned about their families and do not want to impose upon them the task of uprooting their lives and integrating into a completely new social environment.
But the idea that the family suffers from work-related relocation is a widespread misconception. Of course, you do leave a familiar and well-known social network, however the experience of a new environment can not only be exciting and enriching but also positively shape the character of all involved. In fact, this experience can actually become an advantage to those who’ve lived it, as they would have a better idea of how to deal with new challenges and reorientation than those who’ve not had similar experiences. Children, in particular, will be the fastest to build their new social networks and will grow in these situations. So don’t be afraid of moving – variety is the spice of life, after all!
Motives for job and city change
Deciding whether or not to relocate is a very personal choice with varying motives. Nearly for all, however, the biggest motive is that of stepping up the career ladder. The secondary motivators are typically the desire to find a company culture that better fits the individual, and the promise of work-life balance. Behind these motivators are development perspectives and, lastly, salary. Some applicants are even willing to take a pay cut if the company culture and work-life balance are right. Check-in with yourself and recognize what motivates you for a possible change.
In order to make the transition easier, it’s not uncommon to receive support from your employer. Your new company will generally be ready to do everything it can to make your experience as smooth as possible; participating in both the search for an apartment and the rental costs for the duration of the probationary period. These days it is common practice to support a new employee in these ways as well as with the integration of the family. Companies that are not offering such aid often lose the best employees to companies that do offer this kind of support.
Never let fear decide your future
The willingness to relocate is to a certain extent type-dependent. On the one hand, there are very open-minded people who feel a change as an enrichment and quickly get involved in new environments – for these types, professional mobility should not be a problem. On the other hand, there are also very home-centric people who have lived their entire lives in one place, and their social group and preferred activities are all limited to that region.
Someone who feels very comfortable in their current environment will naturally have less of an urge to move to another region. Even someone who wants to develop further or does not feel comfortable with his current employer, can feel fear when considering a change of location. It’s important to remember that we’re naturally inclined to be afraid of change, but try and fight that feeling! A change of location will be hard, but nothing worth doing comes easy. These are the experiences that will enrich not only your life, but the lives of your immediate family members as well. The adjustment period can be tough, but that’s to be expected. In the end you’ll have grown stronger and wiser, and will feel immense pride for having conquered your new place.