The White Elephant in the Room—Divorce and the Sales Career

I recently met with a candidate for a sales leadership position who was unable to move out of state due to the child custody agreement he and his ex-wife had entered.

For this gentleman, relocation was simply not an option. And the same is true for a significant number of professionals on the job market today.

At the center of these relocation woes are child custody laws. Though different in each state, it is widely accepted that parents who have primary or shared custody of their children are not legally able to leave the state without written consent from the non-custodial parent and/or the court.

While few would argue that these laws are designed with the best interest of the children in mind, the reality is that with unemployment rates high, such geographic limitations are making a bad situation even worse. They can also limit the potential for career growth.

In fact, it has become the elephant in the room:  Despite its widespread impact, few are open to acknowledging the hardship that the inability to relocate can cause a sales professional in today’s tough economic times.

In search of some feedback on the issue, I introduced the topic to my colleagues on LinkedIn and got some interesting responses.

One sales recruiter had this to say: “When recruiting candidates, this is usually one of our first questions. Can you relocate, would you relocate, when could you relocate? These are important things to know and can impact career progression. As stated, people hire a field sales person for their local knowledge. Moving up the ladder, however, may very well require relocation to the company headquarters.”

This is a hard truth in the world of sales. In these difficult times, flexibility is key to finding a job. With the talent pool far outnumbering available positions, an inability to relocate may very well prevent even the most qualified candidate from landing the job.

What’s even worse is that there are few viable solutions. One suggestion was to work virtually. However, despite its popularity, this isn’t always an option, particularly for leadership positions that require close interaction with the executive team.

Notes one respondent: “I submit that most salespeople, myself included, work virtual these days. A vast majority of our time is spent in the field visiting with clients and prospects. The exception is usually senior level sales leadership positions working closely with the executive leadership team out of a central office.”

My hope is that, by pointing out the very large elephant, we can open a dialog that may ultimately yield solutions to a difficult situation.

I would love to hear your feedback on this issue. What do you think?

One thought on “The White Elephant in the Room—Divorce and the Sales Career”

  1. Bless you, my dear!

    Flexibility in relocation policy is critical to attracting and retaining talent, and sizeable business growth. The trick is to include relocation as a key business strategy along with sales goals and budget planning.

    While family situation is still a major reason for relucatance to relocate, depressed real estate markets still take the cake. In order for companies to be able to compete in this economic climate, they must focus both on compelling policy design and packaging in order to receive full employee engagement, and ultimately strong business growth.

    I could go on for hours! LOL This post is so timely! I just posted an article to this point on ERE’s community site last night! Thank you for your insight!


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