Should I stay or should I go?

Aug 12, 2019

With a low unemployment rate, more firms are relying on a national approach for recruiting.

In the past year, Zweig Group celebrated the first organic expansion in firm history by opening a new office in Dallas. As an executive search advisor with the firm I was eager to be a part of the company’s emerging presence in Dallas, so I jumped at the opportunity to move from the company headquarters in Fayetteville, Arkansas, to our new location.

Not only do I work with candidates through the relocation process as an advisor for Zweig Group’s executive search team, but I recently engineered a successful and exciting relocation myself, so this is an important topic that I have both professional and personal experience with.

In June, the National Unemployment Rate in the U.S. remained low at 3.7 percent and the labor market in the AEC industry was even tighter. With seemingly more work available than firms can complete, companies are finding it more and more difficult to hire director-level talent that will put their firm in a position to be successful. This was echoed in Zweig Group’s 2019 Principals, Partners, and Owners Survey where AEC firm leaders stated that recruiting and retention were the biggest challenges their firms face today. For this reason, AEC leaders are increasingly relying on a national approach to recruiting that will continue to impact the hiring process in this industry for many years to come.

Relocation opportunities present themselves to most everyone in the AEC industry at one point or another. These opportunities can represent a significant move forward in the career and life of the individual, which presents a difficult decision for many professionals who are looking to take that next step. Firm leaders need to be prepared for this process if they want to hire the key people they need. Here are a few things you need to consider when looking to relocate a candidate for a new hire:

  • Destination. A person may be relocating from one side of the Greater LA area to the other to avoid a longer commute, or changing settings completely from a familiar big city to a more modest location in the Midwest (and vice versa). No matter what the situation is, you should be prepared to show a candidate why the hassle of changing locations is worth it. Help them look at housing, take them out to a restaurant or two, introduce them to folks who are from that area, schedule a meeting on a Friday or Monday so they can spend the weekend there. Do whatever you can to help them fully understand what it’s like to live in this new place. They will take note of your willingness to go above and beyond and it will give them the confidence they need to accept an offer.
  • Relocation package. If your firm is not offering a substantial relocation package for candidates during this process, you’re already behind the curve. Today, it’s customary for AEC companies to, at the very least, reimburse candidates for their moving expenses. This should be considered the bare minimum as candidates are still forced to cover these costs on their own up front. The best way to go about relocation packages is to factor it into a signing bonus, ranging from $5,000 to $25,000, based on the level of the position and cost of the relocation. This gives the candidate everything they need to move right away and even provides additional funds to introduce them and their family to their new home.
  • Family. You need to involve the candidate’s family (spouse and children) in the process early and often. Find out their spouse’s name, what they do for a living, where they’re from, etc. Invite the candidate and their spouse to visit their new location together for a weekend. We have been in situations before where the candidate was sold on a new opportunity, but his family was not. We flew the candidate and his entire family to the destination to meet with our clients in person and explore the city. You’d be surprised how adverse a candidate’s family can be to change until you show them why it may not be such a bad thing.

The bottom line is that you need to be prepared to go above and beyond for candidates during a relocation if you expect them to deliver a signed offer. There is simply too much competition and too many things that can go wrong throughout the process for you not to put your best foot forward every step of the way.

John Bray is an executive search advisor at Zweig Group. Contact him at

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.