Battle of the Careers: Challenges Dual-Career Couples Face during a Relocation

Decision , Feature — By on June 20, 2013

Corporate relocations can be complex. When dual-career couples are asked to move, it can complicate things even further. Rapoport and Rapoport

define dual-career couples as “two individuals whose jobs require a high degree of commitment and continuous developmental character.” Asking a spouse/partner to leave a high-profile career might not go over so well, or it may even result in a split home while an employee completes a temporary assignment. It is becoming more important to address the job search needs of a transferees’ spouse/partner since 79% of married or partnered employees are dependent on a second income .

For a spouse whose career is thriving and on a targeted course, their opinion of the job search won’t be, “I’m open to whatever.” It will be more along the lines of, “I’m a nuclear medicine scientist who needs to continue my work in a university research laboratory.” This might not be easy to find in, say, Deadwood, South Dakota. A study conducted by Chevron

determined that the number one factor that most affected an employee’s acceptance of a transfer was if their spouse/partner had career options in the new location. The employee may be concerned if the spouse/partner’s industry is not prominent in another area. This brings up the possibilities of career transitions or additional education to maximize the time they are on assignment. Career coaching is a great way to discuss all the possibilities for the individual’s career and ways to make a successful transition into a new industry.

An article by the American Psychological Association

points out that even when a job search is going well, it can still be stressful for a couple. This stress can manifest itself in other areas if it is ignored. In a previous post on Coping with Grief after a Move , we discussed the importance of acknowledging struggles and maintaining open communication during the time of transition. It’s important to focus on staying on the same team when the career tug-of-war is going on. Couples need to take time to sit down with each other to establish their career goals and advancement prospects to determine which opportunities to pursue.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that each relocation will promise the best options for both careers, but in the long run, there should be equal opportunities to grow and achieve their aspirations.

Compromise will more than likely be needed throughout a relocation. If a spouse/partner gives up a job so an employee can accept a new assignment, it’s an opportunity to explore several options for continuing his or her career. While a new position might not be identical to the one that was left behind, it can be a stepping stone to building a new network and reevaluating a career.

For additional job search resources, check out our post on Covering the Bases for Job Search Success

Ashlee Ayers is on the Resume Team at Vandover

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