The reality is that most job seekers don’t want to move. Most people would rather apply for jobs close to home where they’re comfortable and have the support of family and friends. This means that companies experiencing a talent crunch in the local market may need to work a lot harder to entice these people to relocate.

This article from the Harvard Business Review talks about the declining number of people willing to relocate for work and gives a few reasons why, I’d like to add a few more reasons to the list.

In some ways, I think the recession changed people. Companies that people had been loyal to for decades, let them down. People lost all the equity in their homes, lost their pensions and burned through their savings. People started to question – is this worth it? If I move for this company, what if things go bad? Will I be in the same place that I was before? Today’s job seekers remember what it was like and some are more hesitant to put it all on the line...again.

But today is not 2008. The economy is strong. People know they can sell their houses and do well, but they’re not convinced they can afford to buy another. If you’re going to the Bay Area right now, you may not be able to afford it, even with a great salary. That’s making a lot of people think twice about accepting a big opportunity, even though the economy is great.

You also have the gig economy. There are a lot of people out there who would rather forego committing to a new company and want to only take projects they’re passionate about. These gig employees today have a lot more choice and control. And that’s exactly what they’re looking for. They don’t need to relocate for work if they can take temporary projects remotely from the comfort of their homes.

What makes people more willing to relocate?

As the article suggests, people relocate less for the money than you might think. Employees are after an experience. If they’re going to uproot their lives, they want to know it’s a company they can trust and a place where they can build a long-term future. 

This is leading many companies to put a strong focus on the employee experience. They’re evaluating the experience at every stage from recruitment and on-boarding to everyday working life. Some companies are even taking it further - sending their employees on two-week paid trips prior to on-boarding, just to give people an experience. Companies are really trying to understand, “what is the experience that people want today?" They know that experience is worth more than salary alone. At the end of the day, experience is what creates loyalty.