For IT Job-Hunters, Relocation Is a Family Affair

The big decision about whether to relocate for a new IT leadership job often depends on decisions made at home.

Scott Bond, an IT director who's currently consulting while in transition, is staying put. When he's been offered job opportunities that required relocation in the past, Bond's answer has always been a polite, "No, thank you."

That's how Bond has dealt with the age-old question of whether IT managers should relocate for new jobs. Some see relocation as essential to an IT executive's career path; Bond doesn't.

When asked if his family would consider moving, Bond jokes, "My wife and I have four generations represented within the Philadelphia area, and, no, they would not relocate with us. They all have careers, too!"

For Bond it boils down to a work-life balance issue. "We chose to put down roots to provide stability and a closer proximity to as many family members as possible," Bond says. "We love the greater Philadelphia area. With that in mind, I am confident that my next great opportunity will come from my home region."

As an IT leader who has successfully consulted while also consistently going on job interviews, Bond has worked toward making his wish a reality. However, as noted in a previous article, resisting relocation could be career-limiting because there are only so many C-level positions available in one city.

Tom Murphy, former CIO of AmerisourceBergen, says it's difficult to "stay local or even regional" and find a global CIO role. "I'm open to relocation because it provides the highest likelihood of finding the right job. By 'right job,' I mean the right role with the right company with the right cultural fit and the right reporting relationship."

Murphy gets to decide what the right job is, but his family will make the decision about relocation.

"While the family is not enamored of the idea of moving, as long as it is someplace I can sell internally, we will do it for the right reasons," Murphy says.

The key is openly discussing the pros and cons of a particular job opportunity with the family, Murphy says. "We have been very open with our kids about the possibility [of relocation] and have engaged them in the selection criteria. We have a list of priorities and selection criteria we use to evaluate opportunities, and location weighs heavily. We have, as a family, already turned down one opportunity in a location that was not desirable."

In lieu of relocation, some CIOs become extreme commuters. They leave their families Sunday night and return to them late Thursday or Friday. But big companies shy away from this option for C-suite executives, Murphy says.

"A lot of people have asked about commuting to another city, but I am finding companies less and less willing to allow this, particularly at the C-level. They are investing a lot and they want to see a commitment from the applicant," he says.

"Relocating is our last preference. First preference is finding the right job locally, second is finding the right role that allows commuting. Third is relocation, but that's what appears to be the most likely to happen."

Kristen Lamoreaux is president and CEO of Lamoreaux Search, which finds IT professionals for hiring managers.

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