One of the ills crippling the job market is a severe case of homesickness. The obstacle standing between many Americans and a new job is their home - and dim prospects of selling it at a price that makes relocating for a new position affordable.
Despite high unemployment, "there is a talent shortage," notes Melanie Holmes, a vice president for Manpower, the Milwaukee-based employment-services company. One of the reasons employers can't fill certain spots is because workers can't make a move, she explains.
However, companies are now offering solutions that may lessen the pain of a move.
Indeed, now that "underwater" and "upside down" have become popular terms to describe owing more in mortgage than can be netted from a sale, housing is a key discussion topic in hiring.
"As soon as a candidate expresses interest in a position, we will fully discuss their housing situation, and we ask a lot more questions than we did years back" says Steve Hall, vice president of business development for FGP International, a Greenville, S.C., search firm.
Several solutions exist, says Tierney Remick, a managing director for recruiting firm Korn/Ferry International., among them:
• A short-term, interest-free loan supplied by the employer to provide a down payment or help the worker pay two housing bills for a period.
• Temporary housing paid by the employer for several months.
• A signing bonus that incorporates compensation for housing costs.
When a headhunter contacts a candidate, he will bring up housing. But a job seeker who lands an interview on his own also may negotiate housing compensation - if the employer is anxious to hire. Often, candidates receiving housing-related aid are at least mid-management level or above, says Dan Ryan, a Nashville search consultant. But there also is a shortage of non-management jobs in some fields, like technical manufacturing positions, adds Hall.
"I wouldn't mention [housing] right away" in the interview process, advises Holmes. But once a candidate receives substantial interest, Holmes suggests he could bring up the question: "I own a house, and moving is a problem. Are there any creative solutions?"