Corporate relocation issues are a major factor in career and personal brand management. I have seen executives abandon an otherwise promising career because a spouse and/or family will not consider relocation.

They don’t want to go through the tedious process of having to find a new home, as well as putting their old one on the market if they don’t have the help of a real estate company that works to sell homes in vegas or wherever you reside. The moving process is hard enough as it is without the concern of fitting into a new community as well as meeting a different group of people. So when you put it like that, you can understand why there is some apprehension when it comes to the idea of relocating for a job.

Girl moving houseAs an executive recruiter, my role is not to judge. Candidates make decisions about relocating for a new job based on a multiple of factors. Family issues are usually number one on the list.

That said here is the important takeaway: Family issues are very important. But those important decisions are rarely made without career tradeoffs, some of them significant and consequential.

I appreciate a candidate’s commitment to family or to whatever belief that led to the I do not want to relocate position. That is important stuff. But in this new normal economy – where productivity increases probably have permanently limited employment opportunities at all levels – relocation tradeoffs produce serious financial and emotional costs.

In healthcare, this will be particularly troubling. Without doubt, there will be reductions in manpower at virtually every health system/hospital in the country over the next seven years owing to consolidation and ongoing cuts in reimbursement. Some of those hit the hardest will be long tenured employees, many of whom will have had multiple performance evaluations that rated the individual “excellent.” However, in industry transformation, excellent performance is no guarantee against losing one’s job.

For many, personal identity is intrinsically linked to their job. Families become deeply rooted in a community with close friends, schools, churches, and their homes. These make a layoff all the worse.

“The reduction in force notice is a slug to the gut. That the human resources representative said, ‘This is not personal, it is business…’ did not have a clue. “Of course it is deeply personal,” one recently laid off executive told me. There is shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – the stages of grief. It affects the whole family.

Force reductions are coming. Now is the time, not when it happens, to have that family conversation. Career brand management means looking ahead, even at the unpleasant options. You cannot have a career strategy without including this potentiality.