Misconceptions about Relocation and Some Tough Love for My HistoPeeps

By: Pam Barker, Relia Solutions

In the first part of this series we discussed reasons for relocation and there were a few common themes:

1. Personal/Family Situation

2. Better Career Opportunity

3. “Ready for Adventure”

Again for Part 2, I went to your fellow histopeeps because I truly believe that experience IS the best teacher.

Here is what I found are some of the biggest misconceptions about relocation:

1. Cost of living was same or less (but actually was higher than expected).

2. Relocation assistance is paid up front or at 100% of your expenses.

3. The actual lab environment was not what they told you it would be.

What I, as a recruiter, have found to be the biggest misconception about relocation is that some jobseekers think it is the employer’s responsibility to do all of the research for them, pay for 100% of their relocation and handle their move for them because:

“YOU are moving all of the way to X city from Y city,

and that’s the least THEY can do for YOU.”

The fact is that it is a 2 way street with great risk and reward for both you and your potential employer. You both have to be willing to risk something for the reward.

Let’s take a closer look at each one and some suggestions on how to be better prepared.

1. Cost of living was higher than expected –Did YOU do the research or did you depend on a recruiter or HR person to tell you what the cost of living looks like? There are so many resources online to help you calculate the difference in cost of living comparison from Point A to Point B.

Check the salary surveys at the ASCP and NSH websites. Histotechs are paid higher or lower in some areas than others because of demand and it’s independent of the cost of living.

If you are a 2 income family what is the income potential of your partner? Do all of the research and learn everything about a position in this new area that you would KNOW if you were taking a position in your local area. You are the one who knows what your expenses are and it is your responsibility to find out for yourself if the move is worth your while.

2. 100% Relocation Coverage from your new employer – Histopeeps!! Here comes the TOUGH LOVE. When an employer offers you a position that will require you to relocate, in most cases it is because they believe YOU want to move there as opposed to them recruiting you to pick up your family and possessions and move for their job. You are making a huge decision but you are most definitely NOT doing them a favor by “letting them” move you for their job. I think I can say with pretty high confidence unless you have been cast in a starring role in a movie, are being drafted by the NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL, or are a member of the Armed Forces, you probably won’t get your relocation expenses covered 100%.

If you do – that’s great but you are definitely the exception not the rule. Relocating for a new position is a 2 way street! Your new employer expects that you will “put some skin in the game”, meaning if you are relocating for a new position it is because you want to be there as much as they want you to be there. You are showing a new employer your commitment, ability to organize and plan, your flexibility, your professionalism and your desire to make this move by being prepared, doing your homework and expecting to shoulder a bulk of the relocation expenses.

You can expect on average for an employer to reimburse you for about $2,500.00 of your relocation expenses. It is very rare for a company to give someone a check up front for relocation expenses. It’s not you, it’s experience. Again, they want to be sure that you are invested in this move as well. It is a pretty big risk for them just like it is for you.

Several histopeeps responded that they were surprised that taxes were taken out of their relocation. I am not a tax expert but I would say that was because of an IRS requirement and another thing you should do the research and be prepared for.

3. The Environment In The Lab Is Not What I Was Told It Would Be. - This is probably the hardest and worst of any misconceptions that you could possibly face. I even hesitate to call it a misconception because it is mostly because of what you were told not what you perceived.

Things like:

  • The manager you spoke with who hired you is GONE

  • You are on night shift not day shift as promised

  • The lab is a toxic environment with infighting and politics when you were told everyone gets along great.

If you are in one of these situations I am so sorry that you have experienced this.

Here are some suggestions on how to get an accurate picture of what you are going into.

In the interview, ask why the position is open. Don’t be afraid to ask why the position is open and why the previous person left. This is your career on the line! Worst case scenario if they don’t want to answer the question and/or it costs you the opportunity, did you really want to work there or relocate to do it?

Always do an onsite interview! Skype is great but it doesn’t begin to give you the insight or the feel for the place and the people that an onsite interview does.

Ask to speak to your potential coworkers. This is crucial – This is the only way you are going to get a feel for the lab. Ask them – what are the best and worst things about working there. Listen to their answers and watch their reactions to your questions. Ask specifically about things that concern you or were an issue in your previous lab. You certainly don’t want to move, and jump from the frying pan into the fryer!

If you don’t get answers you are comfortable with you might be dodging a bullet.

Check Glassdoor.com and Indeed.com for reviews of the company and don’t be afraid to ask about any concerns that arise from those reviews.

And most important of all: GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING! Can you see the common theme here? No matter how you look at it, ultimately, it is your responsibility to do your homework before you commit to relocation. You are the one most affected by your decision, good or bad.

In part 3 of this series I will give you a checklist for planning your relocation that I hope will help with preparing for and making your transition as smooth as possible.

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