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Make the Most of a Short-Term Relocation

Make the Most of a Short-Term Relocation
Moving to a new city or country to take an assignment lasting less than a year? Make sure your hard work pays off with these tips for getting the most from a short-term relocation.

Before You Accept a Business Relocation


Prior to agreeing to relocate for a short-term assignment, consider what’s in it for you -- new skills, a fabulous experience, more responsibility? Know how relocating will further your career and what you will be able to do in the future that you can’t do now.

If the project is located in another country, the payoff may be international exposure, says Geoffrey Latta, executive vice president of ORC Worldwide, a New York City-based global compensation consulting firm. If you’ve done a technical installation twice in the US and now the company wants to send you to China to do the same thing, the career boost you’ll get will balance out the hardship of living overseas. The ability to successfully manage a project outside the US is currently in demand, Latta says.

After you go, highlight your cross-cultural competency on your resume. “One of the big things you can stress is your ability to work in a different environment with people of different nationalities and how the assignment built your cross-cultural skills,” he explains.

Cover Your Relocation Costs

Once you know you want the assignment, make sure your relocation costs are covered, says Scott Sullivan, senior vice president of Brookfield Global Relocation Services in Toronto. Since the assignment is short-term, the company may not pay to move your household to the new location. Plus, you may not want to uproot kids for only a year.

If you’re leaving loved ones behind, negotiate how many trips you can take back home (or they can take to see you) on the company dime.

“If an employee is considering a short-term assignment, they should make sure to negotiate the home leave during the assignment,” Sullivan says. “This will ensure both the employee and employer are on the same page in terms of the number of visits home to see their spouse and family during the assignment.”

If coming back to your same position isn’t part of the plan, negotiate your next step, if possible.

Being sent to another country? Ask for language training if you are less-than-fluent. “Additionally, employees should seize the opportunity to take cross-cultural training, which will help smooth their transition,” Sullivan says.

Also ask about repatriation counseling to help you make the most of what you’ve learned and to smooth your transition back to American culture.

When You Arrive

Look for housing as close to the office as possible. Take a smaller place closer to work, rather than a bigger place with a longer commute. “Chances are you will be spending more hours in the office there than you did back home,” says Sullivan, whose company produces the annual Global Relocation Trends Survey Report.

Once in the office, meet and shake hands with as many members of the company as possible, including coworkers in other departments and higher-ups. Also take every task, assignment or duty in stride and look for projects that will give you new skills.

As you meet people, link to them via social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to build connections that will last past the current assignment.

If possible, build your portfolio by saving one or two pieces of work you can take with you, such as a report, proposal or glowing memo about you.

When the Assignment Is Ending

If your short-term assignment is a contract position where you’re not automatically sent home when the project ends, talk to your boss, coworkers and human resources department two months before your assignment expires about possible opportunities, extensions or placements at that location or elsewhere within the company.

Make sure you get a review or exit interview with your supervisor and gauge whether you can use him for a reference.

Before you leave, take time to visit all the contacts you’ve made within the company. Say goodbye and suggest staying in touch in case you can ever be of service to them in their career.

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