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New Job in Another City? Take My Spouse—Please!

Employer recruiters are finding that to snag an out-of-town candidate they want, they increasingly may need to find a job for the prospect’s spouse as well.

About two-thirds of families with school-age children rely on dual incomes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  So when one spouse is offered a job requiring relocation, it’s often a mixed blessing.   While the husband or wife may have an opportunity for a new position with higher pay, the so-called “trailing spouse” can be left jobless in an unfamiliar city, with no connections or prospects.

“In an economy that remains tenuous, a candidate is more likely to reject an opportunity for fear that their partner won’t be able to find a job,” says Sanjay Sathe, founder and CEO of RiseSmart, a provider of next-generation outplacement and recruitment solutions. “We’re finding that more employers are having a difficult time hiring their first choice for key positions, and as a result, they are taking a closer look at their relocation packages. Offering outplacement assistance for spouses is often the best way to overcome candidate concerns.”

A full 40% of employers say the spouse’s employment “almost always” or “frequently” affects a candidate’s relocation decision, according to a 2010 survey by Atlas Van Lines.

The same survey reports that about one-fifth of U.S. companies, and a third of companies with more than 5,000 employees, offer outplacement help to spouses. Sathe says he expects these figures to grow, as more candidates demand this benefit as part of their relocation packages.  

Offering spousal outplacement can serve not only to attract talent, but also to retain it, Sathe says, because the sooner both partners establish roots in their new community, the more likely the relocation will succeed and the candidate will stay for the long term.

“This only happens, of course, if the outplacement program succeeds in finding the spouse a job,” Sathe says. “That's why it’s so important for employers to choose an outplacement solution with a proven track record. RiseSmart’s Transition Concierge, for example, places job-seekers in new jobs about twice as fast as the national average—a truly meaningful benefit for candidates and their spouses.”

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