Last few weeks…
If you are a regular reader of newspapers or if you have access to Internet (You bet! Since you are reading this online), you are probably aware of recent happenings in the industry. The buzzwords which you would have heard over the last few weeks would have definitely included mass retrenchment, right-sizing, let-go of employees, managing work force effectiveness, increasing efficiency, an eye on margins, etc. Yes, our industries are going through challenging times and we are trying to do our bit to help our colleagues.
I see some interesting yet unfortunate trends emerging. Before looking at these trends let me also give you a glimpse of my journey so far.
I spent my first few years in Chennai, moved on to work in Hyderabad for a while, next few years in Bangalore and currently in Delhi. Work has taken me to multiple places across the globe also and these aren’t just visits. I have always put my quest for learning on top of anything and am very fortunate to have an extremely open minded family.
I have always advised and suggested my fellow colleagues, friends and peers to move around from one location to the other for the sheer joy of learning and experience the new place has to offer us. You also get to have a different perspective of your once-home city when you see it from the outside. You will have to travel to believe it. All those city migrants like me will understand this.
Let’s now come back to those trends I mentioned earlier. Over the weekend, I was chatting up with my friends in leadership hiring, and these are renowned headhunters. From our conversations, I gathered that almost every other candidate spoken to in the past few weeks claim that they are “open to relocate”
I also sat down for couple of hours over the weekend to clear up those pending requests in LinkedIn and accepted about 100+ requests. Over the next 2 days, something unexpected happened. About 40% of them ended up sending some sort of a message. A good number of them were marketing their services and a sizeable set of folks asked for a ‘suitable’ job and stated, “Location is not a constraint”
The underlying pattern I saw over last few weeks was that every job-searching individual was very much “open to relocate”.
This was surprising since these were the same individuals who refused to move out of their bases when opportunities came knocking at their doors.
The pattern was odd and I was puzzled. Is location really a constraint or not? Let’s take a closer look to understand this question. If yes, then why?
First Job towns
There is a high level of probability that our hometown, education town (base location of our college) and our first-job towns are different. During this journey of getting a good education and good first job, location is never a constraint.
We pick our first job, stay with friends, and get acclimatized with new organizations and new locales and slowly start to create a liking for this first-job town. This is the case with most graduates in India, from Tier I and Tier II institutions. One could be even more certain if the discipline is either engineering or management.
For non-engineering and non-management students, there is a good probability of getting first job at their home/education town. A stretch for them would be within their state and not beyond. A native of Mumbai/ Pune studying in Mumbai and ending up with a job in Pune/Mumbai is an example of this category.
Once we spend more than 2/3 years in our first job-town, our urge to move out of that particular city comes down considerably. If you don’t believe me, just go back and take a look at your own story.
Strengthening our comfort zone
We continue to find ways and means to strengthen our comfort zone in our first-job towns. In this journey, we probably end up buying some assets, vehicles, making good friends and also getting married.
In due-course, or in about 5-7 years from graduation, we create permanent mind structures and temporary fixed relationships with a place and find stronger reasons for not moving out of our towns.
Ageing parents, commitment to our family, school for our kids and good handsome job offers ensure that we stay put.
We go back to the same reasons, hide our inability to move out of our comfort zones and hide behind reasons of convenience for not moving out a particular place.
While the core of everything said above is our job, we move away from the very core of our reason to stay in a place and find non-core reasons to stay put in a place.
Our banking system, passport application and many other government processes do insist on longevity in a particular place/address which adds up to another non-core reason to stay.
Move on and move out
If you have never moved out of your hometown or your first-job town and if you tell a prospective recruiter that “I am open to relocate”, do you fancy someone believing you? You know the answer, right?
As a first step and slightly early in your career, take up a job, which is neither in your hometown nor your first-job town. Move out of your comfort zone and be an adult. Some kids do want to come back to their hometown at the earliest. Don’t be that kid. In this age of connectivity, moving on to a new location is going to reduce many of our constraints.
If your emphasis is not on any of those non-core reasons and if you are willing to eat food which tastes differently from what you have grown up eating, do move out and move on.
Don’t take me in the wrong sense. I have plentiful number of friends who have stayed put in same town, enjoyed their work and been extremely successful. I am not asking you to move on from your place for the sake of moving on. I am only asking you make it habit of your own, rather than making it a habit when a difficult situation is stuck down your throat.
Don’t say you are “willing to relocate” when your job is at stake. Say that when you really want to explore, learn and strengthen your views.
Go on. Make a checklist for you. Here is my suggestion:
- First-job – check
- Enjoying life- check
- Learning as a continuum – check
- Moving to a different location – check
- Liking and sharing this article – check
About Babu Vittal
Babu Vittal has over 21 years of experience and has worked with organizations like Reliance Communications, Flipkart, Flipkart.com, CollabNet, Inc., JDA Software India Pvt Ltd, K & M & LM & IG. Babu holds a PGCHRM, Human Resources Management and Services from XLRI Jamshedpur.