Moving to another part of the country — or another part of the world — for a job opportunity can be an intimidating prospect. It can be even more so if you’ve got a partner who’s happily situated in their current gig and isn’t especially interested in being uprooted.
In that second scenario, it can seem like you’ve got limited options. Either you uproot your partner so you can advance in your career; you stay where you are and miss a potentially career-changing opportunity; or you move alone and leave them behind.
A better alternative emerges in Joann Lublin’s new book “Earning It.” For the book, Lublin, who is the management news editor at The Wall Street Journal, interviewed dozens of high-powered women about the personal and professional obstacles they overcame on their path to success.
When Business Insider spoke with Lublin, she said one thing she learned from researching the book (and from writing her Wall Street Journal columns for the last several years) is that it’s important for the “leading” spouse to find an equally significant career opportunity for the “trailing” spouse in their new location.
Over the course of a relationship between two ambitious people, it’s worth noting, the leading spouse will alternate.
In fact, Lublin said, the company for which you’re moving can often help you find such an opportunity for your spouse.
Yet Lublin said most people wouldn’t normally think of asking their company to help their spouse find a new job — especially if they’re a new hire.
“You would be amazed at the degree of help — formal and informal — that an employer is willing to give to the spouse of somebody who they are transferring,” Lublin said.
In fact, some of the women she interviewed for the book — including Liz Smith, CEO of Bloomin’ Brands — told her they offered such help when trying to recruit women with husbands who would need to find work as well.
The company won’t necessarily hire your partner to work for them — but they might react out to their business contacts in the area where you’re moving and see if there are any openings.
Lublin said she gets that it can be hard to make this kind of request.
“Frankly, if you’re coming into a company as a new hire, you’re probably a little bit nervous about making too many demands,” she said. “But you’ve got to remember, at the end of the day: They’re hiring you. They want you.”
Lublin added that you have the greatest leverage when you’re negotiating the terms of your employment — so definitely after the first interview, but before you officially sign on.
“Wait until they fall in love with you and know that they want you more than any other candidate,” she said. “That’s when you have the upper hand; that’s when you bring up these kinds of issues. And you do it from a position of strength.”
Lublin said the first thing to do before you ask your company to help your partner find a new job is to do your homework. That means you should talk to current and former employees at the company and find out what kinds of packages they have negotiated. That way, when you pose your request, you’ll sound both informed and reasonable.
The same strategy applies even when you aren’t necessarily looking for a job for your partner. In the book, she cites the example of Challis Lowe, who was recruited by Ascension Health to run its human resources activities. Ascension wanted her to move from her home in Miami to their headquarters in St. Louis — she didn’t want to.
Lowe found out that the company’s finance chief had also been unwilling to relocate, so the company had paid for the St. Louis apartment where he stayed during the week and his commute to and from California. Ultimately, she was able to get the company to pay for an apartment in St. Louis as well as her flights to and from Florida in the winter and Chicago in the summer.
“If she hadn’t done her homework, she would have been asking in a vacuum,” Lublin said. “And she wouldn’t have known what to expect in the way of a response.”
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