Consultants help ease relocation of working spouses

Corporations are learning that a wife who is committed to job, school, or volunteers work may not always be readily uprooted when her husband must move across the country to a new job.

With more than half of American women employed, two-career families are now commonplace. Not only are families relying on this second income to maintain a chosen living standard, but wives are expecting that they, too, have a right to career satisfaction. This means they sometimes view family moves with some alarm.

Both corporations and private agencies are beginning to pay attention to this modernday phenomenon and find ways to make relocation easier.

Susan Kemp and Margaret NewBorg, cofounders of CareerScope at 405 Lexington Avenue in New York, recognized three years ago that a new service was needed for the half million or so employees now relocating each year because of job transfers or reassignments. Working spouses of these on-the-move workers were, more than ever before, going to need special help if they wer to go along happily and see the benefits of the transfer.

The partners, trained social workers who had developed their expertise through organizing human resource programs for companies and individuals, launched themselves as "corporate relocation consultants." Their objective is to help employees view relocation positively and to ensure productivity, stability, and good morale in the new situation.

The partners assist the working spouse in developing a career profile and writing a resume. They advise her of career opportunities and job trends where she is moving. "We do the same for a husband if it is the wife who is being moved, which is happening more often these days," Susan Kemp says.

Either way, she adds, the more lead time people have before a move takes place, the better; several months is considered ideal.

Their services are even occasionally sought for problems with the selling and buying of homes. "With so much family economic dependence on two incomes, we have even had to speak with bank loan officers about our assessment of the employability of the wives involved in a more," Miss Kemp explains. "Banks take this as some kind of guarantee that payments will be met on today's high-priced mortgages.

The partners agree that patterns for the future are already established."Consideration of the employment needs and interests of spouses is one of the most important issues in relocation management today," Miss Kemp says.

The two women are writing a book about their work. They offer suggestions from it, aimed at women who are about to make moves with their husbands:

-- discuss the relocation with every member of the family. Encourage each one to feel involved and speak frankly about the pros and cons. In that way everyone contributes to the decisionmaking, and fears and doubts can be worked out together.

-- Instead of going to a new area cold, familiarize yourself with it first. Get copies of the local newspaper and city magazine. Call the chamber of commerce. Find out what's going on and who's doing it, and you'll feel far less like a stranger when you arrive.

-- Start your "new home" networking before you move. Ask friends, relatives and business associates for contracts in the new location. When you get there, establish personal, home, church, and business associations as fast as possible. Don't be reluctant toreach out to people and to seek their advice and help.

-- Before you move, review your goals and your life-style choices.By deciding what is important and what is not, you won't waste time fretting about things that don't matter.

-- Remember that great changes in life bring a certain amount of unsettlement. Give yourselves six months to adjust.

-- If you are a career spouse who wants to work in the new location, begin research on employment opportunities when you make the first trip to look for a house. Begin then to make contacts and set up interviews.

-- If there is a national association of women in your work field, joint it. Join your local college alumni association. Use your husband's contacts.Use the women's networks that now exist. If you don't know how to find them, write to Catalyst, 14 East 60th Street, New York, N.Y. 10022, and ask for the listing of over 200 career counseling centers called "National Network of Local Resource centers." It will be mailed to free.

-- Try to obtain nanmes of key people in your field in your new area. Send advance letters introducing yourself, telling them you will be moving into the region. Don't say you are looking for a job, but ask for an appointment merely to talk about the opportunities.

-- Keep a notebook of all the information you gather. It will help you focus your search.

-- If jobs in your field simply don't exist in the new place, begin to think about ways you can readapt the skills that you have. If you still don't find work, go back to school, consider political or other kinds of volunteer work, or take a part-time or temporary job.

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