My employer has informed me that my group will be let go in April 2016 unless we accept their full relocation to move from South Florida to Pennsylvania. Is it bad to change my profile on Linkedin to say "Professional" (meaning I'm looking) and make other changes that suggest I'm searching for a new position, given that my employer has offered me a new position.

I've been with the company 2 years. They relocated me from New Jersey to South Florida. I am under the impression, they really want me to stay with them. There is no such group in Pennsylvania, and they would have to try to recreate that knowledge. They are having difficulty recruiting for my boss's position in South Florida after he retired last month. We have to stay until March 2016 to receive our bonus, and stay until April 2016 to receive our severance.

I think it would be a great opportunity up there, but I also am hesitate to relocate again. I don't want to create hard feelings up there, but then again, they are the ones terminating us.

williamelledgepe's picture
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GIven the situation as described - any of the choices would be reasonable.  Relocating or looking elsewhere will both take several months and the timing is sufficient for either.  What hard feelings are you worried about creating?  You didn't mention family, so I don't know if you have any, but relocation is a professional AND family question.  Changing your title on LinkedIn is not necessary.  The fact you are looking means you are looking - there is no secret code on LinkedIn that means you are looking.  

Whatever your intentions, you should let your current employer know.  If they need to find someone else in PA or if they should prepare a relocation service, they need to know.  You have a responsibility to let them within a certain time frame - they probably gave you a date - I would expect my staff to let me know within in a few weeks.  

If you don't go with them, but you work your tail off to the end - it will serve you well in several aspects - inlcuding reference checks and future networking.  

TNoxtort's picture

Thanks for your reply. I got this job two years ago and my employer provided a generous relocation package to come down here. I would be offered the same relocation package to move up there. I bought my wondeful South Florida house 1 year ago. I have a wife who is not working, and a daughter who is in pre-school. My employer would like to know by the end of November 2015.

If we said we'd relocate, but then for whatever reason were unable to relocate, we'd still get the severance. Ideally, I'd like to job search until the day I have to move (Apr 2016, not Nov 2015 when they'd like to know), and if something came up that would not require a move, take it immediately since my severance isn't that much. If I do not find something, then relocate. I will say that I find my work extremely stimulating and interesting; when my boss retired last month, he told he was bored because the only interesting things were my projects but those were mine.

I'm curious about your expectation that a staff member that is being terminated or forced to relocate has an obligation to tell the employer the intentions. I mean, they are letting our department go, not the other way around. As you said, finding a new job takes time, and relocating has an effect on family. If I told them I did not want to relocate, but then couldn't find a job, I'd lose the opportunity to then relocate if I could not find anything.

While the possibilities are quite remote, I still have a hope they'd sweeten the deal for me or change their mind. All of us provide support to the product development team of a therapeutic area. Years ago with a previous company, our group was under the therapeutic area.  Then after the acquisition, our group was pulled out of the theraepeutic area and put under the management of the type of support we provide, who oversee all therapeutic areas (product specific organization to functional organization), all of whom are located in PA, except us. For those reasons, I do not believe my management understands how complex this therapeutic area is, or how difficult it is to recruit in it. I've been in this therapeutic area with other employers for 9 years. The executive in charge of product development of this therapeutic area (who oversaw our group years ago prior to the acquisition) was completely in the dark on this decision. I've heard he is livid about this decision because it affects his ability to deliver products to the business within a certain timeline. He asked his staff this past week to make a list of all of their concerns, so he could approach my management.

I also understand they are having a very difficult time recruiting someone to take my boss's place and my own expeience with recruiters is it is hard to recruit people like me. I'd like to use leverage that my advantage, and think that the more I tell my employer, who is terminating me, the less leverage I have.

TNoxtort's picture

Also, the relocation service is handled by an outside company. Nothing for my employer prepare, as my large employer is constantly relocating people using this company.

donm's picture
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Your only obligation is to continue to do your job as you agreed to do when you joined. Moving to Pennsylania was not part of that agreement. Also, "letting them know" by the end of November when you won't get severance or bonus pay until six months later is not fair to you. My response would be, "I have no plans to leave this company, and I am making arrangements to move to Pennsylvania." Note that I did NOT say I would not leave, nor did I say I WOULD relocate. If I found another job and I could still get the pay in April, I would leave the company with a clear conscience, after serving my notice period, assuming they didn't just escort me out the door.

What about taxes in Pennsylvania, which has an income tax? Also, you will likely lose money on your home after only one year, with realtor fees. You are also likely to have some stress personally with the move. All of that would require some significant money in my book, to offset it. I doubt your company wants to increase your pay, or pay you any bonuses for leaving, in spite of how you are affected. Why not tell them you want your boss' old job, bonus, and salary increase if you make the move?

williamelledgepe's picture
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One thing to consider if you are to be in PA in April.  You will probably start looking for a place to live in the dead of winter  - including a couple trips to peruse the listings and schools and such.  About 5 years ago I was relocating from Phoenix to DC (NoVA actually) and November-January was a difficult time to familiarize myself with a new area.  Maybe you are OK with snow and early sundown.  I found the biggest difficulty in finding a new place to live in an area I did not know was the early sunset.  It limited the amount of time I could spend with a realtor and the amount of time I could use to actually get a "feel" for the neighborhoods.  Obviously, I could have resolved this by taking time off instead of working while living out of a hotel.  That is just something for you to consider if you decide to move.  Also, considering the large advance notice your company is giving you - you can use the time to your advantage to start the housing search before the dead of winter.  

I agree the relocation package should include some compensation for closing costs in addition to the cost of the actual move itself.  You have room to negotiate that package based on your performance and value to the company.  Since you mention two years, make sure you don't run into any capital gains problems for selling a house at a profit within 2 years of the original purchase.  

Whether you go to PA or stay in Florida, your mind and heart will probably be in that decision by November.  What is the harm in letting them know in November?  I was probably overzealous in saying a "few weeks" was appropriate, but the end of November is 3 months away - you should make up your mind within that time frame - and also strategize how you present that decision to your company.  I don't see any harm letting them know by Novermber.  Is there any likelihood they will change their mind and let you go early if you decide to stay?  Or start treating you differently?  I assume the biggest harm is the probability of not finding a new job.  Only you can size up this risk - and make the decision.  You should be able to decide within a couple months from now if the job market in Florida is going to be in your favor from that regard.  

I do have to disagree with "donm" on one point - "saying I have no plans to leave the company" will not get you far.  If someone were to tell me that I would probe.  If you were to continue speaking evasively I would decide you are being disingenuous.  That erodes trust and makes you the kind of employee I do not want to keep.  It is dishonest to say "I am making plans to leave" so you don't have to leave because you didn't say "I will leave."  This scenario does not state an untruth, but it does purposefully mislead.  Think about the last politician you heard say "I have no plans to run for president."  Your response was probably not positive.  It is one thing to change your mind, it is another to speak like a politician.

I agree your responsibility is to do your job - which does not necessarily include moving to PA.  You do have an obligation to be honest and make a decision.  Time for decision making is reasonable.  Dishonesty and undecisiveness are negative traits.

TNoxtort's picture

Thank you donm and williamelledgepe  for those replies.
The relocation package is outstanding; same one when they moved me Florida. On selling, all fees, commissions, etc are paid for by my employer if sold within 12 months of taking new position. If there is a loss, they compensate up to $35k, which I got when they moved me here. I doubt on this one, since I bought as a short sale and my profit could be $30k - $40k (minus $9k I put into it) even though I've only owned the house for a year. 2 year IRS rule won't apply since they do a transfer to them, and my profit is below the prorated (2 yr = max $250,000 profit exempt) that IRS allows if moved due to job. I am however, talking to property managers about renting it out.  In addition, all packing/moving costs are paid for + shipping two cars, 2 househunting trips for all family members, temporarily living, closing costs on buying the new house, $5,000 up front, and taxes for it all. So excellent package that I know well. May negotiate for 4 househunting trips given the 7 months until then.
Most of my teams work up there so already getting recommendations on places to live. I have a business trip at the end of Sep and will take wife and daughter with me to look around with a real estate agent; I'm not counting it as a househunting trip since it is a business trip for me and flights are cheap. 
The offer to work up there and the severance are all in writing, so I believe they are both guaranteed. My understanding is that even if we say we'll relocate, if something changes and we can't, they will give us the severance. Must be working in April to get severance, and March to get 2015 bonus. I don't actually work with any of the decision makers (they are all up in PA) so they can't really treat us differently. They actually have always treated us very, very well. I think there is a 0% chance they will let us go if we accept their relocation because there is NO technical experience of our therapeutic area in Pennsylvania, no project history, and major, major, milestones (shared with investors, we are a public company) in early 2016. And prior to relocation, we are free to leave at anytime, if we sacrifice the severance or bonus. I might even get promoted, since my VP (a month before she made this decision) told me she was putting me up for promotion in Feb 2016, HR did encourage me to accept the relocation because I was considered promotion material, and my future new boss said I'm well regarded and people want to recognize it.
As far as doing a good job, I plan to. My work and my projects are extremely interesting, and not many people can do what I do, though quite demanding. My retired boss said he hadn't ever seen a more perfect fit and he felt lucky since I was the only one he interviewed when I got it. By doing a good job that no one else can do, it also makes others panic about the possibility I may leave, and may make it easier to negotiate. But they are actually changing our responsibilities which will involve giving up some things. My retired boss fought against that kind of realignment saying it didn't fit with the diseases / drugs we work with. Diseases and drugs don't change for company organizational structures, so let's see how that plays out. 
I am also making contact with my network and headhunters about other positions. We lose a lot of staff to a nearby company; a director there was at my house for a social event this weekend and he offered to send my resume over, which I worked on all weekend. My retired boss also knows the VP over there (and I do too) and offered to call. However, not sure that job would be as interesting, even though it is local. My job can be done remotely, so there are other possibilities too.
So I think the plan is this:
- updated my resume and Linkedin profile this weekend already; no drastic changes to Linkedin (didn't say "professional"), just a few touch ups, and touch base with my network
- househunt now, by trying to get as many business trips up there or on my own
- talk to property managers now about renting my house, and maybe talk to real estate agents
- in November 2015, tell them I accept the relocation and am enthusiastically looking forward to greater contact with colleagues in my functional area - could lead to getting promoted in February (that is the time of year of promotions)
- and here's my hope -- that between now and November, or perhaps even afterwards, they will offer to negotate so mums the word until November. I need to think about what I want though. 
- still, tap my network and search for jobs, through April 2016, and if something better comes up, then leave early - perhaps dishonest, but we are all free agents
- do a very good job; in every role I've ever had previously (job, volunteer, etc), after I left, people either remembered how well I had transitioned something so complex, or had to stop realizing I did much more than they ever appreciated
- ENJOY my house while I can - on Friday I worked from home and took a conference call with my feet in my pool with my Bluetooth headset on! and plan more trips to Disney World, Legoland, Keys, etc while we still can.
Thanks for helping me think this through, as it was a stressful week.