How to Ask for Relocation Assistance

So, you’re about to receive a great job offer in an exciting, far-away city. You’ve searched your heart and decided that, yes, you’re up for this move—assuming the offer is right. Which raises a big question: how do you ask for relocation assistance? 

To be clear, the time to ask for—and negotiate—a relocation package is after you receive a job offer but before you accept. That’s when your bargaining power is greatest. But in order to negotiate the best deal, you need to know what’s expected. If you haven’t been through a corporate relocation before, here’s the least you should know about the process.  

Just Ask the Question 

Often, when you receive a job offer, the employer will indicate if relocation assistance is included. If so, that’s easy: request a copy of the relocation policy, wee what’s covered, and if necessary, start negotiating accordingly.  

If not, thank them, consider the offer—and if you’re interested, ask—directly and courteously—if relocation benefits can be included. 

If the employer comes back with a firm “no,” it’s up to you to decide if you want to keep pressing or take the job regardless. If the employer says “yes,” providing that coveted relocation agreement, now you can start the review and subsequent negotiation process.  

Understanding How Relocation Programs Work 

Relocation agreements can be written any number of ways. Knowing these basic factors will help you understand what you’re reading:  

  • Relocation funding is handled various ways. Some employers offer a lump sum of money to spend as you like. Others expect you to pay your costs upfront and then reimburse you. Still others use a direct billing model, where employers pay vendors directly—the most advantageous arrangement for employees. This typically isn’t something you can negotiate.
  • Some relocation policies are flexible, such as lump sum policies. Others are tightly structured, specifying dollar maximums for certain services. Structured policies may require more negotiation if the benefits don’t sync with your needs.  
  • Some employers manage their relocation programs in-house; others use a third-party relocation management company, or RMC. 
  • There are two types of RMCs: traditional RMCs that rely on relocation specialists to coordinate with new hires and modern, tech-based RMCs that allow employees to manage their relocation online, with live assistance as needed. If your potential employer uses relocation software, you’re lucky—it will save you time and stress. 
  • Employers offer different degrees of relocation support, either via live relocation specialists and/or relocation software. The more support, the better!

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Weighing the Components of Relocation Assistance

Because relocation costs vary—depending on how far you’re moving, how much stuff you’re moving, and where you’re moving to and from—there is no one-size-fits-all dollar amount to shoot for, although you can do some research and get an idea.   

More concretely, evaluate what’s covered under your policy, which may provide the following benefits:

  •     · Transporting household goods to the new location
  •     · Assistance buying/selling a home or finding a rental
  •     · One or more house-hunting trips 
  •     · Travel expenses to move the employees and family to the new location
  •     · Short-term housing, when necessary, plus temporary storage of household goods
  •     · A tax gross-up benefit. (Because relocation benefits are taxable to employees, many employers elect to cover the cost of the tax.) 
Identify the benefits that matter most to you, and compare it to what’s been offered. If needed, ask for accommodations as part of your larger job-offer negotiations.

How to Ask for More Relocation Assistance

Employers expect to negotiate job offers, including relocation. The worst that can happen is that the company turns down your request. That said, the best way to negotiate is to frame your counteroffer in terms of how it benefits both of you.  

By making a job offer, the employer has indicated it wants you on the team. By offering relocation assistance, it’s indicated that it wants you at work and up to speed as soon as possible. When you tie your requests to these objectives, you’re more likely to get what you want.

For example, if you think you’ll need more time to sell your house and buy another, but you’re willing to start the job in the meantime, ask for short-term housing and temporary storage. Or, if a tax gross-up is very important to you, explain that it will help you be more productive by providing peace of mind. 

It’s up to you to decide what you can and can’t accept—and ultimately, you may need to compromise. Assuming your negotiations are successful, get that agreement in writing—and start planning your big move.

Human Resources Today