By the time I was 11, I had lived in four states. No, I wasn’t a military brat, my dad was in advertising—on the agency side. Because we were uprooted every five years, I’m no stranger to relocating for your career, and I want to ensure that you’re taken care of, too.
I spoke with Jenna van Aswegen and Oana Iordachescu, who both made international moves for their current roles on the recruitment team at Booking.com, a company that relocated more than 500 people to the Netherlands in 2016 and aims to double that number this year (in addition to adding more staffers to the other countries in which they hire!). Here are their tips for a seamless relocation.
Relocation Questions to Ask Throughout the Interview Process
Before you decide to relocate, make sure that it’s not only a good move for your career, but also that your transition will be fully supported by your new employer. Ask these questions.
1. Will you provide moving and housing assistance, and in what way?
Do not—I repeat, do not—relocate without understanding your package. It’s not uncommon for companies to pay for you to get your furniture, your clothing, and those yearbooks you just can’t give up professionally packed and shipped to your new home. Plus, more than a few employers also offer to set up new hires up with paid temporary housing (and even unpack for you!).
Jenna moved from Denver, CO, for her current role. Her advice? Aim for at least of month of temporary housing assistance, which will give you time to find your new home without the rush. She also suggests asking your potential employer if they can set you up with a reputable real estate agent, which Booking.com offered, along with packing, moving, short-term housing, and a relocation bonus. “Our goal is to ensure that the relocation experience is frictionless, so on arrival you can focus on what’s important: enjoying and learning about your new environment, settling into your job and, of course, supporting your family,” says Oana.
2. Will you pay for me to visit the city?
While you may be up for the adventure, you’re still uprooting your life. So it’s definitely not too much to ask your potential employer to pay for you to spend some extra time in what could be your future hometown. Booking.com brings future hires over for three days during which they only spend half a day in the office for an interview; for the rest of their stay, they’re encouraged to check out the city.
During that time, Jenna suggests completing a mental checklist to determine if it’s right for you. What’s the community look like, and could you happily fit in? What would your commute be like? Would your kids be happy going to the schools? Could your spouse get a job? Where will you buy groceries? Considering these types of questions will not only give you a feel for what life would be like if you moved, but will also help you understand what to ask for in your relocation and compensation package. Oana notes that Booking.com offers customizable packages, depending on each candidate’s situation, so it’s worth doing your research.
3. Will my new salary make up for any differences in cost of living?
Remember that question about groceries? Well, it wasn’t for nothing. This can be a key indicator of an area’s cost of living—a sneaky one you may not otherwise consider. Other things to research include rent, taxes, and
the exchange rate.
Ask to speak with someone else in the company who has relocated, ideally someone who’s come from a place similar to your current home, to get the scoop. And don’t hesitate to ask your recruiter, says Jenna, who’s likely to be honest about it. After all, the company wants to ensure it’s a good fit on both sides.
4. What is the company culture?
Even if you get all the relocation perks and a fantastic compensation package, you won’t be happy if the company isn’t a cultural fit. Which, frankly, can be pretty hard to sniff out when you’ve been doing much of the interview process virtually. While you’re in the office, get a feel for the place, and don’t be afraid to ask questions of your recruiter and future colleagues.
A few to get you started: What’s the work environment like? What’s the work-life balance? Does the company offer a fair vacation package—and do people take their vacation? How much does the team value collaboration, and how do they handle conflict? Are people friends at work? Do colleagues get together for social events? Remember, while your work friends may not make up your entire social circle in the long run, they’ll likely be the only people you know in town when you arrive.
5. How do you expect me to make an impact?
When making your final decision, a lot comes down to this question. If you’re moving for a job, you want it to work out, so your big move won’t have been in vain. Ensure you understand the role, the onboarding period, and what’s fully expected of you. It doesn’t hurt to understand your new boss’ expectation of exactly when you’ll start making an impact, either.
“The most important aspects for me were about my role and the team,” affirms Oana, “This included the mid- and long-term expectations and how I expected to impact all of it.” Oh, and it’s always worth it to check your employment contract to see if you’ll end up having to repay anything (i.e., your relocation bonus) if it doesn’t work out.
Are You Ready?
Oana just celebrated her first anniversary at Booking.com. During that year, she helped many people make their own decision to relocate to Amsterdam. “Most of the stories I hear are positive concerning the care and support they receive coming in,” she says. “You get to dedicate your energy to professional growth and hardly deal with the hassle of relocation. Having moved before by myself, I know how much effort it is to make it a seamless experience.”