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How to Ask for Relocation Assistance for a New Job, Step by Step

Two women negotiating
fizkes / Shutterstock

Landing an offer for a new job is exciting. But when taking that offer means relocating to a new city or across the country (resulting in large moving expenses and potential logistical headaches), it can dampen the mood a little.

This is especially true if you’re not sure if your new employer will help you make the transition.

The good news is as long as you have an offer on the table, you have enough leverage to ask for a relocation assistance package from your employer or potential employer.

Many companies want to help you, as long as what you’re asking for is fair, and you ask the right way. But doing so takes some planning and forethought.

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to ask for relocation assistance in a way that will make your employer happy to give it to you.

Step 1: Understand your employer’s position on relocation assistance

Relocation is very expensive. In fact, it can cost up to $100,000 to relocate a single employee, according to the Allied Global Workplace Mobility Survey.

So companies are careful with how much they spend.

However, a smart employer also recognizes that once a talented employee is up to speed, that person will bring a company far more return on investment in the long run than what’s required to shell out upfront to hire them.

And since it often takes 6+ months of training (half your annual salary) before you’ll be productive and provide that return, companies will spend a little money to reduce that time if they need to.

The best companies take this approach. According to Allied, companies who get new employees up to speed the fastest spend more than two times what others do on their onboarding programs.

So if you have an offer, it means your future employer thinks you’ll provide the return they’re looking for, and they are most likely willing to lend a hand if it helps you be productive faster.

Here are common ways companies help their employees with relocation:

Common types of relocation assistance include a lump sum, a reimbursement, direct billing, and help from a third-party broker.

Ask to see their relocation assistance policy

Many companies have a standard relocation assistance policy in place that explains what they’ll offer and how it works. So before you ask for anything, ask to see this policy — it will tell you what to expect.

If your company doesn’t have one in place or if you need help with something that isn’t explicitly spelled out, read on to learn what to do.

Step 2: Assess what you’ll need assistance with

You can often negotiate for assistance outside of a standard relocation policy as long as it ties back to the goal of getting you up to speed faster. Even things like fees, breaking a lease, or job search assistance for your spouse are possible, in addition to more standard things like hiring a moving company.

Here are many of the things companies will often provide relocation assistance for, including some you may not have thought to ask for:

Relocation assistance can cover everything from moving service coordination, to rental assistance. Just know what you need to ask for.

How to determine what is fair to ask for

A common issue people run into when asking for relocation assistance is knowing what is fair to ask for and what isn’t.

It’s good to be mindful of this, but it’s also important to know that most people underestimate how difficult moving is and the costs associated with it.

Unexpected expenses and headaches pop up during a move all of the time. Since stress in your personal life will keep you from being productive in your professional life, it’s best to err on the side of asking for too much rather than too little.

The worst your company can say is “no.”

When thinking through what’s fair, make sure you can answer both of these questions about everything you’re requesting:

  • “Would this make the transition unreasonably difficult if I didn’t have help with it?”
  • “How would assistance with this help me be productive for the company faster?”

Having good answers to these questions will increase your chances of receiving assistance. Now, learn how to make your requests the right way.

Step 3: Ask for assistance collaboratively

The way you frame your request has a big impact on your chances of receiving it — and the key to getting it right is by asking collaboratively.

Chris Voss, the FBI hostage negotiator who literally wrote the book on the subject, explains how to negotiate and get what you want for anything in your career:

“To accelerate your career, you have to break out of the ‘self-centered’ approach to negotiation and transform it into the ‘us-centered’ approach to negotiate more for you via more for them.”

– Chris Voss, FBI hostage negotiator and author of “Never Split The Difference.”

Simply put, you have to frame your ask so that it shows your employer how giving you what you want will help them get what they want, too.

This is where your answers to the two questions above will help you. Here’s an example:

When asking for relocation assistance, focus on how an easy move would benefit both you and your employer.

When should you ask for relocation assistance?

It depends. But generally, it won’t make sense to ask for anything specific unless you have the offer.

Relocation assistance is a logistical issue, not a job fit issue. Digging into the logistics of a transition that may never happen just distracts from finding the right job fit – which is ultimately what the company cares about more.

However, if you’re still interviewing, or are in the process of applying, it’s still a good idea to make sure you won’t have a logistical deal-breaker that will waste each other’s time (that is, you need relocation assistance, and there’s no way they’re providing it to anyone.)

Here are some things to check for and ask to help you understand where the company stands on relocation and any assistance with it:

  1. Check the job description or application for mentions of relocation: Some companies will give you a feel for if they offer assistance right in the job description or application process.
  2. Check out current employees on LinkedIn: If several of their current employees at your level have made moves, there’s a chance they may offer assistance.
  3. Ask directly or be upfront about your needs: If receiving relocation assistance is non-negotiable for you, it’s best to be upfront about it. It doesn’t hurt to ask what the policy is – just hold off on asking for something specific until you have an offer.

Key takeaways

Companies are more willing to assist you with relocation if they think you’ll be a valuable addition to the team.

Before you have the offer, focus on demonstrating the ways you’re a valuable asset – it will make it easier to ask for help with the move later. After the offer, focus on connecting the help you need to what the company wants.

Step-by-step guide to relocation assistance infographic

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