Career Column: Perfect Job, Imperfect Location

By CIO Update Staff

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Executive career advice from Dave Opton, founder of ExecuNet.

Dear Dave:


I understand you recommend that executives looking to make a transition apply for all positions that match their search criteria in every way except location. I have no intention of relocating and therefore I'm uncomfortable responding to a position outside of my home area. Somehow it feels deceptive or dishonest. What is your rationale for this recommendation? What happens to a candidate that turns down an offer because of a requirement known prior to their initial interest?



Dear Bill,

I understand your concern about appearing to be dishonest or deceptive in applying for a job that is outside of your geographical target. However, in this day and age, companies are often flexible in their requirements as they try to secure the best talent possible for a position.

Just recently I spoke with a publishing executive who had decided to put an end to her two-hour commutes to New York City and semi-retired to northwest Connecticut. Shortly after this decision, a venture capitalist contacted her hoping she would bring her talents to a new venture that had just received funding. After several discussions with the publishing executive, a decision was made not to locate the operation in New York City as originally planned. Instead, the office was located in Ridgefield, Conn., a mid-point for both parties.

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This type of flexibility in offers happens far more often than you might think. In fact, many members of ExecuNet have had interviews that resulted in an offer for a job other than the one originally applied for and others have had interviews that led to linkages that ultimately led to an entirely different company that met all of their requirements. None of these "landings" would have happened if these members had not raised their hands to start with.

In responding to a position that meets all of your criteria except geography -- you will be making contact with a recruiter and a company that may value what you have to offer. Have them get to know you -- make the linkage. If you are asked to interview -- take advantage of the opportunity to meet with the company's executives to discuss your qualifications.

If you are the right person for the job and they offer to relocate you -- then you can discuss alternatives and flexibility. Is it dishonest to say that you want the job but have decided moving is out of the question? Ask for the consideration of terms that accommodates both you and the employer. Always present yourself by demonstrating that you have the best interest of the employer in mind. This is not deceptive, you are simply representing your interests while trying to support the best interests of the hiring firm.

At the end of the day, you always have the right to say no, but as they say in sports, you need to give yourself the opportunity to win. If you are asked a question directly as to how you feel about relocating to Urban Chaos, USA, there is no harm in saying that Urban Chaos is not at the top of your "where I want to live list," but you responded because the job content you saw was of great interest. And if and when it came to having to make a decision about relocation, you would carefully weigh all factors at that time.

If the initial interview or offer doesn't work out, keep in mind that making linkages is fundamental to a successful job search. You should always strive to be remembered and referred and you can't make either of those things happen if they don't know who you are.

Approach every opportunity with an open mind. If the job content is perfect for you, then start a dialog. Once the connection is made, things can change, including, titles, salary, and -- more often than you might guess -- location.



Dave Opton is CEO and Founder of ExecuNet, an online career services center for executives. For more information on executive career management visit www.execunet.com. Questions can be sent to Dave at deardave@execunet.com, he can't answer each individually but look for yours in an upcoming column.