If you've ever had to move from here to there for a new job, you know what a nerve-racking experience it can be. That's why the ability to calm and soothe the ruffled feathers of transferring employees is equal to the Midas touch when you're looking for a job in the relocation industry.
It's a field that attracts applicants from other customer-focused, finance-related fields, including real estate agents who want their weekends and nights back, loan officers tired of selling all day, and insurance company customer-service reps looking for personal growth or just a change of pace.
Cindy Christopher, a partner in a recruiting firm dedicated to corporate relocation staffing, places employees in sales, management and technology jobs at large relocation firms and the Big Four. What opportunities does she see for someone who wants to make a mid-career switch into relocation? "These companies are begging us to find high-level, highly skilled, customer-oriented people who can interpret relocation policy and basically hold executives who are transferring by the hand," Christopher says.
Don't Forget the Tech Skills
To excel as a relocation consultant, you need an even temper, the ability to multitask, and proficiency in Microsoft Word, Windows and the Internet. Those technology skills are often a stumbling block for real estate agents seeking a shift into the relocation industry, Christopher says.
"What I find in dealing with traditional Realtors is that they're not computer-savvy," she explains. "All these companies are heavily system-driven, so you need those skills. Realtors also have a lot of autonomy. They make their own schedules, and they're outside a lot. In relocation, you're inside in a cubby with a headset. It takes a special kind of person to make that transition."
The Big Four do lots of international relocation work, which requires another set of skills, including tax and compensation expertise, cultural education and sometimes the ability to speak another language.
New Career Home for Realtors, Accountants
Patricia Wasson, an HR manager for Prudential Relocation Management (PRM) in Vallhalla, New York, says opportunities abound on the real estate part of relocation for people with experience in mortgages or insurance, especially those with a customer-service background. "We hire a good number of real estate agents who have made the shift from working as a listing or selling agent to working as a relocation counselor," she says. Those who make the jump can expect starting salaries ranging from the high $30,000s to mid-$40,000s, including bonus compensation tied to performance.
As you move up the corporate relocation ladder and earn a position as an on-site relocation manager or win a position managing a big account, you could reach a salary of $60,000 to $70,000 plus a bonus of up to 30 percent tied to company profitability and individual achievement, Christopher says.
PRM also routinely hires accounting industry professionals for its expense-processing department, which helps the payroll departments at PRM client companies track relocation costs and cope with year-end tax reporting of employee relocation benefits. These positions include payroll generalists, bachelor's-degreed financial services analysts and MBAs (but not necessarily CPAs) who manage employee teams assigned to major accounts.
While many of the major relocation companies are headquartered in the northeastern US, you can also check with smaller relocation companies throughout the country.