Monday, September 3, 2012

"We Don't Pay for Relocation"

In last Friday's post, I wrote about dealing with the dreaded "We Don't Sponsor Work Permits" objection. However, I mentioned that this is actually one of two of the most common objections. The other is: we don't pay relocation costs. This is a killer for many potential employees. If the foreign firm is very experienced in recruiting internationally, then yes, they'll have some sort of relocation package. Otherwise, you might be looking at spending thousands of dollars/euros/whatever just to take a job. So how do you get over this hurdle?

In part 5 of my work permit series, Salary Negotiation, I wrote:
If you get this far, the actual employment contract will need some form of relocation assistance. To guarantee my job in Nottingham, while I did receive a very nice salary, I also offered to pay for my own transportation to the UK. Generally, the employer will pay for your flight and the cost (if any) of moving your goods. If you've offered to pay to secure the job, so be it (don't offer to pay unless you absolutely have to).
The short-stay apartment the
Nottingham company put me up in
Got that? As you saw from my last post, I told my new company how to hire me. With today's post, I explain that I even offered to help cover some of the relocation costs. Fortunately, the company in Nottingham put me up in a short stay apartment while I looked for a place to live.

So how to overcome the "we won't pay" hurdle. First, you need to be sure to isolate the objection. This is a technique from sales designed to help you understand what the potential customers is really saying. In this case, we'll hope you have a slightly less adversarial position than in a sales call, but it's still possible that the other person on the end of the line is making an excuse and doesn't want to tell you they think you'll ask for too much money, or they're unsure that you really have they skills they need. By isolating the objection what you're looking for is an agreement that if relocation costs were not an issue, you would have a job offer. It makes no sense to try to solve this problem if there are others lurking.

So how do we solve this problem? First, go back and read Count von Europe (yes, again!). Clear anything out of your way which might make moving abroad more difficult or expensive. If you've come this far in the interview process, you don't want to fall down now.

Now that you've established that "we don't pay for relocation" is the only obstacle, your appropriate follow up question is "why?"

There are a variety of reason why they may not offer to pay relocation. The simplest is that they've never thought of it: a company that is not used to sponsoring foreign workers may not have considered how difficult it is for you to just pick up and move thousands of miles away. Once they think about that, if you've paired your worldly goods down to a couple of suitcases instead of an entire household full of stuff, you're going to be a lot less expensive to move over.

The kitchen from my first flat in the UK.
Keep in mind that companies have budgets and just because the company as a whole can afford to pay your way doesn't mean that your potential boss has the budget to pay for your relocation, so the hiring manager may not be keen to blow his department budget paying for your dreams. So ask for a loan. Seriously, some companies will consider something like this. The money would be deducted from your paychecks over time, minimizing the company's costs. If they really want you, this is an option that just might work.

If they still can't/won't pay, it could be that they can't afford it. Smaller companies work on tight budgets and yes, that's scary for you if you're moving abroad, but you didn't come this far to turn away at the slightest risk, right? You might simply offer to pay your own way. If you do this, explain to them that you'll still need logistical supports when you land in their country. More to the point: you'll need a place to live. One gentleman I knew who was moving to London had a friend he could stay with, but you may not have that option.

So that's the basics of what we're looking at:

  • Find out if "we don't pay for relocation" is the real objection
  • If it is, find out the reason they don't pay
  • Think of creative solutions to the problem

Getting a job in a foreign country is hard for most of us and creativity may be required here. Don't take "no" for an answer: find out what their real problem is and try to solve it for them. If you show determination, that might even get them thinking about about more than "no".

Do you have any creative solutions? I'm sure plenty of people would love to hear them.
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