Sometimes climbing the corporate ladder means a change of venue. But before packing off to a brand-new city, it’s important to do some research and check off a few essential tasks from your to-go list.
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According to Joyce H. Vasser, a retired government human resources manager, failing to prepare properly before a move can cost you personally and professionally.
“Moving to a new city for a new job will either make or break you,” said Vasser, who worked – and relocated throughout the Southeast – in government for nearly 40 years, specifically in human resources and higher education sectors. “If you don’t fully research the company you’re about to change your lifestyle for and understand its synergy, your success within the company is a long time coming. You will end up making a lot of mistakes because you didn’t properly read the company for what it truly stands for.”
No matter the career field or path, Vasser recommends taking these five steps in advance of moving your lifestyle and line of work:
Probe the company’s culture in depth
You want to grasp the personality of the company by becoming familiar with its people. “If you have the opportunity to visit and get to know coworkers on a personal level, do so,” Vasser said. “Know the company’s mission, objectives, organizational structure, products, services and the ones who make things happen. Also, don’t let fear interfere with getting to know the culture. Learn the culture as fast as you can but with finesse so you’re not making errors that will paralyze you and your career.”
Know your strengths, determine if they match the culture
Don’t plan to pack up and ship out if you genuinely believe your skill set and personality will clash with the company’s. “Be honest with your professional strengths before making a lifestyle and career adjustment,” she said. “You want to grow and be authentic in your growth within the culture. You don’t want to brown nose or relocate without considering how you truly can progress and help the company progress as well.”
Learn who the movers and shakers are
Have clear goals in mind and know the people within the company who can help you achieve them. “You need to know where you fit into the company with the decision makers,” said Vasser. “In managerial positions, you need to have a game plan to get goals done. No one works on an island or in a vacuum. For instance, your work may involve printing, communication or marketing. You need to become extremely knowledgeable about who the secretaries and mail room personnel are to get the work completed effectively and efficiently.”
Survey the state, metropolitan area of the workplace
If you’re able to visit the location prior to committing to the move, explore the city’s infrastructure and traffic patterns. “Your job may require meeting with a lot of people in different sections of the city and parts of the state,” said Vasser, who has lived in Alabama, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C., throughout the course of her career. “Know the intricacies of the city and state so you’re never late. Get acquainted with public transportation, because you can’t always depend on your own.”
Seek organizational, personal support systems
Reach out to professional networks connected to your career field in the new area, which will serve as extensions to groups you’re already part of. “Touch base with career and professional development support systems you have history with and find out who their representatives are in the new area you plan to work in,” said Vasser. “The same goes for making contact with old college roommates, relatives and past colleagues who live in the new location as well. This step is critical because these connections give you ‘reality testing’ in a new environment. Linking up with both professional and personal support systems before moving allows you to get a better feel for how your new life would possibly look like and help validate your past.”