My Spouse Won't Go

When is the right time to discuss a relocation with your spouse/family?

Tell me if you’ve ever done this.

You get a call from a recruiter and they take you through an opportunity that sounds really good. Right up your alley.  Great company.  Great role.  Lots of responsibility and authority.  Great career path.  Pretty nice location, but it will require a move.

You decide to throw your hat into the ring.  Interviews are scheduled. You move through the process getting more and more excited by the prospect.  You meet the recruiter, the HR exec, the hiring manager and their team.  Maybe you even meet the senior management or a board member, depending on the role.

You get the call from the recruiter that the company wants to make an offer.  You hesitate.  “I’ll have to talk it over with my spouse,” you say.  Then you come back a day or so later and withdraw.  “My spouse won’t go.”

The recruiter, clearly upset by this response, asks you why you hadn’t discussed this with your spouse at the outset of the process. Or raised the possibility right from the start. Your explanation is that you didn’t think it was necessary “until the job was real.”

You didn’t think the opportunity was real until an offer was imminent. 

As a recruiter, let me tell you a rule you should consider – the opportunity is real as soon as you allow yourself to be presented to the client.

The presumption on the part of the recruiter and the company when you put your hat in the ring is that the only reasons you would not take the job that is offered are:

•    The job isn’t what you expected it to be. As you work through the interviewing process, you find that the job isn’t what you expected based on the spec and your initial discussions.

•    You discover something about the company that gives you pause.

•    You don’t connect with the boss, the management, the culture, etc.

•    You can’t work out an acceptable compensation package.

All those things are very valid. The interview process is as much about you buying the role as it is about you selling yourself to the company.  This is fact gathering and decision making. All good.

What is not valid is finding out well into the process that your spouse/family was going to have an issue with relocation.  Those should have been facts you knew from the outset.  If you knew where the job was located, you should have confirmed that relocation was not going to be a problem. 

By waiting until late in the process you not only waste significant time and energy yourself, but you’ve also tied up multiple folks at the company and the recruiting firm, you’ve likely led them not to consider other viable candidates, and, you’ve given the recruiter a big black eye with their client.

If you are going to do a job search or even if you weren’t looking and get a call that you find interesting, do yourself a favor and sit down with the family and clear the air immediately.  If you can’t move, tell the recruiter right up front.  Please.