A CNN.com/Career exclusive: After the layoffs
Survey shows IT workers more ready to roll
By Porter Anderson
(CNN) -- "People are telling us they're a lot more willing to relocate for a job today than last year."
In an exclusive advance release to CNN.com/Career of its survey of 3,401 tech professionals, techies.com has found 47 percent of respondents saying they're more willing to move for a new job now than they were 12 months ago.
"The economic slowdown," says Cynthia Morgan, techies.com's executive producer and vice president for content, "is definitely making people less picky about where they'll work."
The finding is particularly compelling in light of data from an earlier phase of techies.com's two-part survey of layoff trends among United States IT (information technology) workers. Among the people taking the survey, 65 percent of those laid off six months to a year earlier had not found new work. Seventy-six percent of those laid off within the previous six months still were looking for jobs.
The techies.com site -- a major issues-and-employment hub on the Web for technology professionals and employers -- will post results of its new relocation survey on Monday.
In one question, respondents were asked, "If you lost your present job and the only equivalent job you could find was several hundred miles away," what would you do?
Accept the new job and move -- 52 percent
Continue looking for work closer to home -- 28 percent
Accept a lower-paying job in order to remain in my present location -- 7 percent
Consider switching professions or go back to school for additional training -- 6 percent
Become self-employed and remain in present location -- 6 percent
"And what we're seeing in the 'relo' survey,'" Morgan says, "matches our experiences in other surveys and studies. Hundreds of people taking this survey told us that they underestimated the impact the move would have on other members of the household, especially a spouse or partner, even if they were experienced relocaters and had a caring, helpful employer."
Some points from the survey:
Forty-seven percent of respondents said they're more willing now to relocate than they were 12 months ago
Sixty-nine percent said they've never moved to a new location without first finding a job there
If they had to move today, 48 percent said they'd have to move a spouse along with them, 31 percent would have to move one or more children; only 16 percent said a relocation would mean moving just themselves
Of places to go in North America plus Hawaii, the West Coast proved the most popular relocation destination among these respondents (17 percent); the South was next (15 percent); just 8 percent said they'd like to go to the Southwest; Canada appealed to only 1 percent; Alaska was chosen by no one surveyed.
The costs of relocation figured quite high in survey respondents' input.
Says Shuman Lee, techies.com's analytics director, "Employer-paid relocation isn't universal, by any means. But there's a definite gender difference in who gets paid to relocate and who does not. Sixty-two percent of the women in the survey paid for relocation themselves, but only 55 percent of men had to.
"It's not clear why. It could be a reflection of experience or the types of positions held by women versus men, or that the men we surveyed are simply more aggressive without asking for relocation benefits."
Overall, Morgan says, "Respondents told us that the job itself -- and factors surrounding it such as money and opportunities for advancement -- are the most important criteria they consider in deciding to take a job in another city. Right below that: cost of living. Since many tech centers also happen to be the costliest places to live in the U.S. -- the (San Francisco, California) Bay area being a notorious example -- that's understandable."
Morgan and Shuman have broken down their survey's findings into several categories.
Experience level and/or age differences: "Generally," says Morgan, "the more experience a respondent had, the less enthusiastic he or she was about moving. People in their child-rearing years (25 to 54) are less willing to move than people outside that age range."
Compensation differences: "Willingness to relocate is apparently a matter of extremes when it comes to compensation," Morgan says. "People making less than $50,000 or more than $150,000 per year were more willing to move for a job than the national average.
"Interestingly," she says, "when ranking the importance of job and regional factors in deciding to relocate, the people least concerned about money were those making more than $150,000 per year. They were also less worried about potential for advancement than average -- probably because they've already advanced -- and much less worried about employment for spouses or partners."
Gender differences: "Women seemed to attach more importance than men do to virtually every factor when making a relocation decision," Morgan says. "But they were less likely (than men) to assign great importance to the quality of schools in the new location."
In a mildly surprising response, Morgan says, survey takers put proximity to friends and relatives at the bottom of a list of criteria for making a move.
"Moving a household cross-country," she says in an observation from her own experience, "is always a hassle. It costs your employer thousands of dollars and no matter how carefully you track your expenses, it costs you, too -- in dinners out that aren't covered under your 'relo' plan, unexpected taxis, utility fees, missed bills, deserting your home for two hours so the realtor can show it, tracking missed shipments, finding new doctors, dry cleaners
"Somewhere during the move you'll find yourself gritting your teeth and saying, 'This @#$)@ job had better be worth it.' I guarantee it."
In offering a comment on the survey, one male technical writer in the Midwest wrote: "I wish there were some way to force employers to go more into telecommuting and forever end this crap about moving to find work."
Cynthia Morgan says techies.com has begun gathering responses on a new survey of tech-sector careerists on the subject of telecommuting -- its attractions and drawbacks. Click here for information about participating in that survey.
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