‘Sorry, No Relo Provided’

What would you do in this situation?

One challenge I often face is when candidates apply for a role and are not currently local for a position… and there’s no budgeted relocation for that job…

Easy rejection, right?

… But what if the candidate says, “I’ll move on my own!” ?

This is a tough scenario I find myself in. On the one hand, it seems logical to most that if a candidate volunteers to move, I should let them.

But, on the other hand, since I do pay relocation for some roles (often senior or niche, hard-to-fill positions), I’m tasked with a dilemma:

Consider this:

Five employees are enjoying a happy hour one evening. All five have varying jobs of different skill requirements, but we’re a small company so everyone spends time together.
Four of these employees received relocation bonuses. One paid their own way to relocate. The other four are all talking about what it is like to settle into Orange County, and the conversation turns to what they used their relocation money on…
How will the one who paid out of their pocket begin to feel about how they were treated?

How would you feel?

Importantly, if it came to it, would a judge uphold that I was fair to the 5th employee for letting them pay their own way to relocate if I obviously pay for other people to move?

Would the situation get tricker if the 5th candidate happened to be a minority?

What about anyone else who was qualified for the position, but because I was not paying for relocation, they could not make the move.

Is that fair?

How I’m Managing This Today

To avoid these possible scenarios, I have made it a policy that, unless we make relocation available to every candidate for a particular role, we do not interview or entertain any remote candidates for the position.

Often, candidates receive a rejection notice from me that simply states that we are not relocating for this role. This is the reason why. ☝️

For a candidate, who is willing to move to sunny SoCal in a heartbeat, this is a hard thing to hear. In the end, I feel that it creates a fairness that is important for me to maintain between all candidates.

Relocation is a form of compensation, and I believe it’s imperative to keep compensation as balanced as possible between all candidates for a role regardless of their individual backgrounds, circumstances, means or other factors that do not directly relate to their ability to perform on the job.

This translates into unintended consequences sometimes of having to say “no” to an interested candidate who would be someone I would screen for the role if they lived local to the office at the time of application.

But there is an upside: Should I eventually not find enough candidates locally who meet a given job’s criteria, and relocation is approved to enable us to broaden the search, I will reach back out to all candidates who are qualified for screening and who currently live within the United States and invite them to join the candidate process again!

Thoughts? How do you think I should handle this tricky scenario?

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