The decision to conduct a job search that will require a major move is not an easy one and must be given serious thought. The emotions experienced during a job search can range from invigorating to extremely stressful. These emotions can be magnified when considering a position that will involve moving out of the state and community that you have built over a period of time. I have been fortunate enough to be selected for three different positions that have resulted in out-of-state moves.
Any position that will require a significant relocation should be evaluated carefully with those who will be directly impacted, particularly if you have a partner. In a move that took my family from Southern California to rainy Oregon, my partner and I decided to leave a large metropolitan area in our home state of over thirty years for a small community of 20,000 people. Complicating the decision was the impact this move would have on my parents, who have a limited grasp of the English language and would be unlikely to travel to an unfamiliar place to visit us. This was a difficult decision, but my partner and I believed that in order to gain more experience that would prepare me for a CSAO position in the future, we needed to make the most of the opportunity. An important factor that made this possible was negotiating a moving allowance to transfer the cost of the long-distance move to my new employer, and I highly recommend keeping this in mind during negotiations. Another factor that made the decision easier was that our children were still quite young, so the move had minimal impact on them. We moved to a place where we did not know anyone, but the community went out of its way to welcome us, including a visit from the CSAO bearing groceries and other gifts within hours of our arrival. This type of welcome has influenced me in the way I will try to welcome new staff in my current role as the CSAO.
Our next move, to Seattle, was a bit more complicated. Again, I was presented an opportunity to take on a position that would help me further develop my potential. I sought the advice of many mentors for this transition, as it required leaving a place where my family had developed many roots over our seven-year stay. To complicate the matter, our kids, who were ages 9, 7, 5, and 2 at that point, were deeply connected to the community. After much thought and advice we were able to discern that it was time to take the next step. Throughout the entire process, including interviewing for two other out-of-state jobs over the course of many months, we included our children in the conversation and decision-making process. In retrospect, this may have created more stress for them than necessary, as they began to prepare for transitions that did not take place, and the actual transition was still very difficult for them when the time eventually came.
My current transition to a CSAO position has brought us back to Southern California. This process proved to be more difficult as it meant transitioning from a position in which I had spent less than two years. This was a serious consideration, but I made the decision to pursue and accept this offer, because I believe in the mission of the institution. This time we decided not to let our children know that I was involved in this search. When we informed them of the decision it was very hard on them. My current position had a mid-year start date, but because our last transition was so recent, we felt it was important to allow the kids to finish the school year before moving. Although I negotiated as late a start date as possible, this has still meant living apart from my family for several months, which has been difficult for all of us. We are still in the process of navigating this transition.
I share this narrative with you in the event that you will have similar decisions to make in the future. In addition to the recommendations above, I suggest that you use your network of mentors and your community to help with the decision making process. It is also best to avoid applying for positions that will require difficult transitions unless you are prepared to accept the necessary sacrifices. Not every opportunity is worth the cost.
This post is part of our month-long series #SAmobile, a look at the stories of SA pros who picked up and moved for their career. This series is about the struggles, the successes, the hurdles, and the emotions involved in such a life changing decision. For more information, see the intro post by Juhi Bhatt. Check out other posts in this series too!