6 Options for Your Trailing Spouse During Relocation

Posted: Jan 31  |  By: Sharon A. McLaughlin, Esq

If you’re considering a career change that requires relocation, a trailing spouse who works can pose a dilemma. If you find a job before your spouse, how do you handle it? Well, there may be several options for your trailing spouse, depending on your circumstances.

Spouse’s employer has a satellite office or will allow the spouse to work remotely.

In a perfect world, your spouse’s employer may have an office in the new city to which you’re moving and allow a transfer. Or, your spouse will be permitted to work remotely following relocation. This would eliminate the necessity for your spouse to look for a new job and lessen the financial impact and burden on your family.

Spouse chooses not to work.

If your financial circumstances permit (or depending on how lucrative the new job may be), it’s not uncommon for a trailing spouse to stop working following relocation. This may provide him/her with the opportunity to be a stay-at-home parent, or to pursue a personal interest or hobby. For example, let’s say that you live in New York with your husband and then accept a job in Houston as an investment banker. Your husband has a full-time career in marketing, but recognizes this an excellent career opportunity your family. Rather than looking for a new job, he might decide to stay at home and pursue his writing passion.

Delay the start date of your new job.

Another possibility is for you to approach your new employer about delaying your start date in order to give your spouse more time to find a new job. This will minimize any period of unemployment and income loss for your spouse. The new company or firm may or may not be amenable to this idea. Often, they needed you to start yesterday, so this option may not be feasible. However, it’s always worth an ask.

Use a recruiter.

Using a recruiter may be a great way to expedite your spouse’s job search in your new city. Recruiters specialize in specific industries, and are well-versed in relocation job placements. If you’re already working with or know a recruiter, ask them for help. If they can’t help directly, they’ll be able to refer you to a colleague or another professional contact who can.

Explore employment opportunities for your spouse with your new employer.

While some companies still have a policy that prevents spouses from working together, it’s more commonly allowed than in years past. Depending on your spouse’s skill set and the size of your new employer, there may be employment opportunities for your spouse there. If you pursue this route, keep something in mind. It’s very kind of your new employer to consider your spouse for employment, but if it doesn’t work out, will you still want your new job? If this arrangement will cause your acceptance of your offer to be contingent on your new employer offering (or worse, not offering) your spouse employment, this may not be the best option.

Take advantage of your new employer’s network.

Upon relocation to a new city, your own networks will be limited. Take advantage of your new employer’s professional and personal networks. There are likely many connections to individuals who can assist your spouse in his/her job search. Many employers will offer this to new employees with trailing spouses.

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