It’s becoming more and more common. While we’re stuck at home, corporate employees are starting to find alternative working locations. For some, it’s been their vacation home. For others, out of state family has been a good option. But, a third option is emerging.
Some employees are moving to a new city or state altogether. Just last week, I heard from a friend who is packing up and moving to a new, cheaper state. The pandemic is forcing employers to rethink their policies regarding where people must work. And, given the lower cost of living in smaller cities, employees can’t help but consider a move.
Cities are taking notice of this trend. There are a number of places in the middle of the country that are offering relocation bonuses to remote workers. These cities know that workers will bring tax dollars and spending into their economies. In order to attract remote workers, they’re offering incentive programs that range anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000.
In my home state of Oklahoma, Tulsa is offering people $10,000 to move there. They’ll also throw in free desk space at Tulsa’s top coworking community, along with other perks. To be considered, you must be a remote worker who is able to relocate within six months, and be at least eighteen years old.
Alabama has a similar incentive program to remote workers. They are offering remote workers in the tech industry up to $10,000 to live in and work from The Shoals.
In Kansas, the Choose Topeka initiative is offering up to $15,000 to relocate to Topeka and the Shawnee County community. To qualify, you must purchase or rent a home within a year of your move.
The Choose Topeka website highlights that the average cost of a single family home in Topeka is $125,000 and the average monthly rent is $762. This is a huge difference from a place like San Francisco, where the average price of a home is over $1 million, according to Zillow.com.
If moving to a cheaper city has ever crossed your mind, the next year may be the time to try it. Start by searching online for remote jobs. You can do this on every major job site (LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor) by using the word “remote” in the spot where you normally specify city.
If you’ve been at your current job for a long time and have a good relationship with your boss, you may also want to consider asking if this is an option with your current role. Or, you may want to see what your company decides to do about going back. Some companies little Twitter have decided to allow employees to be remote forever.
As you can imagine, working from anywhere (especially when there’s a bonus involved) is a great new option. If you’ve ever thought of relocating, do research to find out if your favorite city is offering money for moving.
If you’ve found yourself out of work because of COVID, you are likely searching for something new. You may be doing some soul searching. You want to figure out what you should have been, or what you’d like to be in the future. You may even wonder if you’re living in the right city.
I’m an advocate for major career change. Switching industries, job function, and city can open up so many new possibilities. It can lead you to a better career, potentially more fulfillment, and sometimes, more money. Although the process is scary, it can be worth the effort.
Pre-COVID, I would have advised you to be daring. Take risks. Search for your perfect career and perfect city. Argue your case for more money. It may take time and be a little painful, but it will be worth it. Today, my feelings have evolved with the times. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the May unemployment rate to be over 13 percent. And, some estimate this number is low.
What this means is that you need to take your risk tolerance into perspective when you decide what you want to do next. As a general rule of thumb, the more things you are changing in your career, the longer your job search will take.
Think of it this way, if switching everything about your career would mean an investment of one year, are you prepared to wait that long? Are you someone who has saved an emergency fund for just such a time?
If not, consider making fewer changes at one time. For example, keep the same kind of job, but look in a new city. Or, change industries in your existing city – while keeping the same job function. Or, switch job functions within your industry and your current city.
Taking your career change in steps can help you to mitigate risk, and it should shorten the time it will take you to get to the next job. This can be especially helpful during a time when hiring has slowed, and available job candidates have increased.
If you’re feeling especially strapped for cash, or your stress level is very high, you may want to consider looking for something similar to what you did before – near where you currently live. It will give you an opportunity to stabilize and you can go from there.
Remember, no job has to be permanent. If you don’t like it or if it’s not quite what you wanted, you can start looking again soon. But, stabilize yourself first. The more time that goes by, the harder looking for a job can be emotionally — and employers will have more questions about why you’re out of work. And, if you’re in a pinch financially that burden will only grow with time.
Don’t get me wrong. Career fulfillment is important. But, so is having stability during this unprecedented time.
A friend said something to me this weekend that took me by surprise. They said, “Better times are ahead of us.” What took me by surprise was less the statement than my own reaction to it. In the moment that it was said, I had a realization as to just how tough the last few months have been – on everyone.
Can you believe it’s been more than three months since the lock down started? It’s been three months since things felt “normal.” The pandemic, although maybe obvious to some, seemed to come out of nowhere in mid-March. Suddenly, everything in our lives was very different. Travel plans were put on hold. Learning was no longer an in person school activity. And, if you were one of the lucky ones, you were working from home.
Now, the end is very unclear. States are beginning to reopen. But, the news is mixed on whether or not this is a good idea. No matter what your opinion is, chances are this time hasn’t been easy.
Some people have lost their jobs and are barely hanging on. Others have experienced significant life events, such as weddings or funerals or birthdays, while socially distanced. Many are either locked in a home with too many loved ones or too few. No matter how you slice it, it has not been easy.
On top of everything else, the job market isn’t great. Whether you’re out of work or stuck in a job you hate, this is not the best time to be looking. It’s especially difficult when you compare today’s market with the great job market of 2019.
But, if I can reflect again on the words “better times are ahead,” now is the time to prepare for those better times. Eventually, things will go back to normal. Eventually, companies will hire again. Some companies are even hiring now.
If you haven’t done it, update your LinkedIn profile. (Yes, people really do use LinkedIn for hiring.) Update your resume. I know it’s hard, but your resume is an important part of landing your next job. And, start networking. With so many people stuck at home, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to get time on someone’s calendar. Instead of an in person coffee, have a virtual coffee over Zoom or on the phone.
Above all, keep applying. Don’t assume that just because the job market is bad, you’re doomed. That’s not necessarily the case. Don’t get me wrong. Getting a job won’t be easy. But, if you don’t try, you definitely won’t find one. I have personally seen companies that are still hiring and onboarding new employees virtually during this unusual time. It is happening. So, if you’re looking for a new job, keep trying. At the very least, you’ll be completely prepared when new jobs start to come available. You’ll be ready for the better times that are ahead.
One of the hardest parts of the job interview process comes in the form of a very simple question: “How much do you make?” The question typically comes up in the first screening call with the human resources recruiter. It is also asked on the online job application.
The problem is, answering the question “how much do you make” or “how much do you want to make” can put you at a disadvantage as a job seeker. Sites like Glassdoor have shown us that there are a huge range of salaries offered for roles. Salaries aren’t standardized across industries or even within companies.
If you answer this question off by almost any amount at all, you can be (and often are) eliminated from consideration. In other words, the company has a pay range in mind. If you don’t correctly guess a number in that range, you’re out. If you’re too low, they may consider you to be underqualified, and too high, they’ll assume you’d say no to an offer. If you’re inside of the range, but on the low end, you will be paid on the low end in the future.
If you ask a recruiter why they need to know this information, they’ll tell you they just want to learn if you’re in their budget. But, we aren’t products to be bought and sold. We’re humans. The company knows the value of the role. They ought to share their number, and allow the job seeker to determine if it’s a fit.
The good news is, the laws around salary are evolving. In a number of states and cities, companies can no longer ask for salary history. In California, if you’re in a job interview and you ask for the pay range, the employer must share it with you.
Beginning in October, Maryland is going to join this trend. The legislature has passed HB123 that keeps employers from asking for your pay history – verbally, in writing, or by any other means. In addition, if the job applicant requests the pay range for the job, the employer must provide it.
This is a huge step in the right direction. Long term however, what I’d like to see is the pay range posted for every job. It shouldn’t be a secret game that you need to know the rules of. Plus, as a job applicant, asking for this information can leave a negative taste in the company’s mouth.
On top of that, I’ve found many companies aren’t aware of the rules. Even in states where the laws are very clear, the company will ask these questions. That puts the job seeker in a very awkward position.
If you’re currently looking for a job, research the rules in your area. No matter what they are, check out the salary data for the company on Glassdoor, Indeed, and LinkedIn. This will help you to be prepared for anything.
The last three months have been heavy, really heavy. And now, here we are. Things are heavier. But, unlike COVID-19, racial issues have been there all along. They aren’t new. But, some of us have had the luxury not to think about them every day. I saw a notable quote this week by Angela Davis. It said, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist.”
If you haven’t experienced racism firsthand, there are a few things you can do to help at work. The first is to listen — and to believe. Having friends from different cultures and backgrounds allows us to learn about things we wouldn’t otherwise know. But, sometimes, for reasons that are often not conscious, we end up with a lot of friends who are very similar to us. When that happens, we miss out on those personal stories that help us to better understand the experiences of others.
If there’s one thing I would wish for, it’s that people would share their experiences more. Do you remember when the Me Too movement started? Many women shared their personal stories. The stories made things real for our male loved ones. But, trauma is hard to talk about. It’s not something we want to put on display. When it’s over, we put it away. There’s a lot we could learn from each other in the BLM movement if we heard more personal stories from people we know. With that said, try not to overload your African American colleagues with questions. Not everyone wants to be the poster child for every issue. And honestly, each person is dealing with their own feelings, hurt, and grief in a way that is unimaginable.
If you observe racist behavior at work, speak up. As a white person, I’ve heard racist things said behind closed doors that someone else would never know about. Don’t let that continue. If you have the privilege of hearing these types of awful comments, you have a responsibility to say something. Being quiet and hoping the issue will go away is no longer enough. It never was.
I wish I had more impactful words to share today. This issue is so big that there aren’t enough words on the page to address it. I’ll leave you with this. This is not a new issue. And, it’s not yet an old one (as it’s not yet in our past). Soon, we’ll be going back to school and work. We’ll have less time on our hands to think about BLM. But, just because we’re distracted again won’t mean the issue is solved. And, just because we may no longer see it won’t mean that it’s gone or that it’s no longer time to speak up. If BLM is important to you today, it should remain important in one week and one month and one year and five years.