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Most Americans Would Move for a Job

By Daniel B. Kline - Jan 26, 2019 at 7:30AM

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Younger workers are more likely to be open to changing locations.

Just because the job market has been strong does not mean that your dream job, or even your next opportunity, will be local. It's possible that landing the position that will advance your career will require moving -- and that's something the majority of Americans are willing to do, according to a new survey from Robert Half.

Over half (52%) of the 2,800 U.S. office workers surveyed said they were willing to move for a job. Younger workers, as you might imagine, were the most willing to move. Over three quarters (76%) of 18-34-year-old professionals were willing to relocate for a job, while only 62% of those aged 35-54 and 40% of respondents 55 and older felt the same way. More men (67%) were willing to move than women (59%).

A man and a woman watches movers unpack their belongings.

Most Americans would be willing to move for a job. Image source: Getty Images.

What does this mean?

Workers were all over the map when it came to their top reason they would be willing to move. Better pay and perks (44%) led the way, followed by family/personal reasons (17%), then cost of living and career advancement, which tied at 16% each. The reality is that most workers are open to moving if the job they want is not in the city where they live. But that does not mean companies should take it for granted that workers will move.

"In today's competitive hiring environment, many employers are finding it challenging to locate skilled professionals in their immediate area," said Robert Half Senior Executive Director Paul McDonald in a press release. "As a result, organizations are open to considering candidates in other cities and offering attractive relocation packages to secure that talent."

A separate Robert Half survey showed that at least some companies are stepping up their game when it comes to recruiting out of town talent. That study, which interviewed more than 2,800 senior managers at companies with at least 20 employees, showed that in the past five years 34% of companies have improved their relocation packages. Still, 30% of respondents said their companies don't offer any incentives for moving.

What can both sides do?

Workers who are open to moving should be met in the middle by companies looking to make those moves as easy as possible. That means taking a more individualized approach to filling jobs, as well as offering relocation packages. A package might be more generous, for example, for a position that a company has struggled to fill locally, while it might be less generous for workers who already express a willingness to make a location change.

If a worker applies to out-of-market jobs and expresses a desire to move to that area (maybe for family or quality-of-life reasons) then companies should be willing to consider them -- especially if that results in a superior hire. When possible, employees should also be as open as they can to moving if it means advancing their careers or landing opportunities that are not available where they are.

In many ways this is a supply and demand problem. There may not be enough qualified employees to fill every available top job. There certainly aren't enough quality workers who happen to live in the right places given the current labor shortage. That means that both employers and employees are going to have to be flexible when it comes to filling/taking jobs in some of the highest-demand fields.

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