|The Hunt||IT moves beyond the U-Haul|
|In today's tight IT labor market, relocation benefits play a larger role in recruitment. Companies are even considering pet relocation packages.|
|By Natalie Engler |
Now, there's a sentence you don't hear every day. The question, posed to John and Sonya Smith (not their real last name), that prompted this response was, "How did you end up working for USWeb?"
This was not their first move. About two years ago, the Smiths relocated from England to near Honolulu so that John, a then 24-year-old UNIX engineer and security specialist, could take a position with GTE Government Systems. But all too soon the couple came to hate their new home.
Hawaii may have blue skies and beautiful beaches, but it's also congested, expensive, isolated, and unfriendly to newcomers, according to John. "It's great to vacation in, but it's an absolute horror to live there," he says.
So, within six months of arriving in the island paradise/prison, John posted his resume on the Web. Although he received four or five job offers a day, he says, no one would pay for the couple's flights to the mainland.
Then, a year ago, he got a call from Luther Garcia, the cofounder of Gray Peak, a company later bought by USWeb. Garcia asked John a few questions and gave him a rudimentary technical evaluation, and then offered to fly him to the company's offices in New York for an interview.
John, who had impressed Garcia on the phone, made an even better impression in person. He was offered a job and a full relocation package on the spot.
USWeb said it would pay the Smiths' airfare, moving costs, and for a room (which turned out to be a suite) in a Manhattan hotel until the couple found a new home (which ended up taking six weeks). The total cost: around $10,000.
Even with all of this John had two additional requests. First, he wanted to have the option of moving closer to Virginia Beach, where he is originally from, in six to 12 months. And second, he asked that the company "pay for not only [moving] me and my wife, but also [moving] our two cats."
The company complied with both requests.
Using relocation as bait
"But what does an upstart Internet firm have to do with my company?" you might ask. For one thing, USWeb and its brethren may be coming after your employees.
At press time, USWeb was scouting the country for Internet developers, UNIX system administrators, network engineers, creative designers, and strategic consultants. In many cases, says Kevin Holt, the company's managing partner of corporate resources, "they are recruited right out of Fortune 100 company IS departments."
Mobility may be appealing to young, unencumbered developers--or to people like John and Sonya, who are working their way back to John's hometown. But more important, using relocation as bait is a tactic that may be important to you.