09/13/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Why Employer Relocation Packages Are Becoming As Extinct As Jobs: Times Are a Changing Unless You Work for Oprah That Is!

I am from a town called Armonk, in NY State's Westchester County. While growing up there, Armonk was the Global Headquarters of IBM. At that time, IBM was considered the Google, or Microsoft of today.

Armonk was a corporate town with several country clubs, and was down the road from Greenwich, CT. It was a smokestack-less company town with a fancy school, where one was identified by the area within the tiny town, in which one lived. i.e. Windmill Farms, Whippoorwill, etc.

Almost everyone's dad in Armonk -- and in those days of the 70's, it was only the "dads" who worked -- worked for IBM. I remember at school, at every grade level, we always had lots of new kids coming in throughout the year, and as new friends came in, others left. The joke was "IBM" stood for "I've Been Moved"! (Hey, what does Google stand for anyway?)

If you wanted to get ahead at IBM, you moved. Not just across the country, but across the world. Picture AMC's TV show, "Mad Men," but taking place in the 70's. IBM had a sprawling contemporary, rolling-hilled corporate headquarters. It was a city onto itself that was a former local apple orchard when I was growing up.

Relocating back then was a way of life to advance your career.

During a recession, the offer to relocate for a job that you currently have or for a new one, hardly exist anymore. Why is this? Well, often there are so many quality candidates within a local geography due to high unemployment, that the expense and risk of relocating someone has become almost extinct. It's as rare as those moms who did work a job outside the home, back in the IBM era community, in which I grew up.

Today, lack of relocation has become quite egalitarian, affecting everyone, including the executive suite. Relocating and the perks that went with it, has long been the hallmark of six-figure executives. Well, it's mostly gone away, along with the signing bonus. I suppose the exception might be a CEO, some specialized rocket scientist, or bio-tech expert.

However, there is an exception to every rule, so if you are unemployed, have no local prospects, and someone does offer you to relocate, jump on it.

How can it not be worth it? I guess it depends on what your spouse or partner does for a living. While it might be difficult to pull Buffy and Jodi out of the school they love and the friends they know, the kids are better off making new friends and adjusting to a new house than the alternative -- going to the poor house.

Harpo Productions, is soon moving to Los Angles. This is Oprah Winfrey's production company. I have heard from several of her well-compensated executives, many of whom are women, who have to decide in the next 24 months as to if they want to move from a Chicago-land suburb to LA. My advice is always the same to these people. As I advised Jed Clampett from "The Beverly Hillbillies" many years ago, "Load up the truck (SUV) and move to Beverly...Hills that is. Swimming pools, movie stars!"

Your spouse or partner can find another job. Harpo will help, or he/she can tune in here to The Ladders. There are more six-figure jobs listed here on The Ladders, for your spouse on partner in LA, than Oprah has homes!

So relocation, if you can find it, is almost always worth it. Rarely, if ever should you volunteer to relocate your job, unless there is some guarantee on a buy-out if the job does not work out. The advice in my column today is written specially for a job recession environment, which is forecasted to last until at least the end of the second quarter of 2010.

Let me know what you think. Happy Hunting!
You're always welcome to write me with your career dilemmas, and I'll answer you on this column.

Follow me on Twitter @ Workplace Guru and add me on Facebook or email me at:

Disclaimer: The scenarios and events portrayed in this article are products of the author's imagination.
© Stephen Viscusi. All rights reserved. Article can be duplicated in part of full without author's permission.