Recruiting out-of-town job candidates is tougher than ever. Plenty of talented people are feeling unable to relocate, and recruiting failures can hammer budgets that are already tight. That’s why more companies are responding with a new benefit to attract recruits: spousal outplacement.

An unwillingness to move was reflected in the annual survey on corporate relocations by Atlas Van Lines Inc., in which more than half of the companies responding said that some recruits had declined to relocate in 2010. Not surprisingly, housing and mortgage issues led the list of reasons given for declining to relocate, followed by family issues.

Third on that list of objections to relocation: a spouse or partner’s employment. That concern was registered by 41 percent of employees, more than raised personal reasons, “no desire to relocate,” and job security concerns.

It’s clear why spousal unemployment is such an issue for so many. Two-thirds of American families with school-age children rely on two incomes. So while a new opportunity can be enticing, it can leave the so-called “trailing spouse” jobless, with no connections or prospects, in an unfamiliar city. The Atlas survey found that 46 percent of employers say the spouse’s employment “almost always” or “frequently” affects a candidate’s relocation decision.

Those considerations are having a clear impact on recruiting. 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.

Among the most effective additions to any relocation package are outplacement services for spouses, which currently are offered by a fifth of U.S. companies and by a third of companies with more than 5,000 employees.

Retention positively impacted along with recruitment

Offering spousal outplacement not only helps attract talent, but aids in retaining it. That’s significant because an alarming number of executive relocations fail — as many as half of them, according to some estimates. A significant element in those failures is family dissatisfaction.

Relocation is especially tough on family members, as often they don’t have a new job on which to focus. They are in a new house, in a new city, with new schools and new people around them. When a relocation fails, the employer loses the investment it made in recruitment, which for many professional positions can exceed twice the employee’s annual salary.

So the sooner both partners establish roots in their new community, the more likely the relocation will succeed and the new hire will stay long term. This only happens, of course, if the outplacement program succeeds in finding the spouse a job. And not all outplacement solutions are alike, so it’s important to choose wisely. 

Statistics back modern, results-oriented approach

Old-school outplacement providers offer high-cost, low-return services such as group “grief” counseling, classes on resume preparation, and the leasing of expensive office space for use by transitioning workers.

Today’s leading-edge outplacement solutions take a more modern, results-oriented approach. They provide each transitioning worker with a personalized online portal from which they can access jobs mined from millions of sites across the Internet, research companies, manage their job search in real time, and even share jobs using social networking. These new outplacement solutions are a reflection of changes in the recruiting industry, which has embraced online job searches and the use of social media.

But the new outplacement solutions aren’t just about technology. Each worker can meet one-on-one with a transition specialist with experience in the employee’s industry, participate in webinars with industry experts, and practice interviewing with an HR specialist.

Statistics show that employees in this kind of program can find employment twice as fast as the current U.S. average of more than 40 weeks spent unemployed.

With transitioning workers seeking better, faster results and companies needing to be more and more careful with their recruitment dollars, the need for spousal outplacement is clearer than ever.

Learn more about how spousal outplacement can bolster your recruitment and retention efforts.

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