• Estimated read time: 4 mins
  • Date posted:20/07/2020
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Moving abroad or across state lines for work can incur significant costs. No matter how prosperous the career opportunity, it can leave many executives and senior managers tearing out their hair with stress and financial concerns. Nowadays, it’s commonplace for large life science organisations to entice senior-level candidates with generous relocation packages, and many executive job seekers have come to expect this. This relocation assistance could involve any of the following:

  • Moving costs: This could involve shipping your possessions abroad or paying for your flight.
  • Providing money for a scouting trip to the location: This allows you to visit the location, explore the local neighbourhoods and search for appropriate accommodation before your commencement of the role.
  • Providing and paying for temporary housing: If you were unable to visit the location before your first day to arrange appropriate living arrangements, your prospective employer might pay for temporary accommodation until you find your feet.
  • Assistance in selling your home: Selling your house can be a lengthy process, which can be problematic if you have a short notice period and are expected to commence your new role in a matter of weeks. However, the organisation can take the responsibility off of your shoulders and arrange it themselves.
  • Enrolling your children in schools: Your move can be stressful and the employer is aware of this. Enrolling your children in school might seem like a minor task, but it’s one less thing for you to worry about.
  • Applying for your visa or work permit: It’s usually easier for the employer to take care of the important paperwork for you.

In a survey of 1000 people, 26.44% stated that they received some form of assistance with moving expenses and 15.75% were given temporary living expenses from their prospective employers.

The life science industry is no exception. The stakes are even higher at a senior level; organisations are wary that if they don’t secure top-talent with enough incentives, then their star candidates will move onto their competitors.

It’s worth being aware that some employers might offer relocation assistance upfront, whereas others will expect you to initiate a negotiation process. If you’re working with an executive search firm, then negotiation can be carried out on your behalf by an executive search consultant. However, it’s important to get clear about what you want and need from this relocation.

The different methods of relocation assistance



Here are 4 top tips to help you nail your relocation assistance negotiation:

1) Research

Before you get down to the nitty-gritty, you need to identify what the employer already offers in terms of relocation assistance. If it’s not labelled on the job advert, then you might need to do some digging. Once you know what they offer, if anything, you can use this to determine what it is that you want.

Calculating how much the move is going to cost you in total is crucial. You can’t expect your demands to be met if you haven’t first considered how much it’s going to cost. Your prospective employer won’t appreciate vague estimates. Once you’ve done the maths, you can determine whether you can financially afford the move yourself, or whether you need assistance and what with. Now you can go to the organisation and negotiate a deal involving them arranging temporary accommodation upon your arrival, for example.

2) Make your case

Consider what matters to you most and what you feel is the most stressful factor in your relocation. Are you feeling the pressure to sell your home in time? Have you not had the chance to scout out your new neighbourhood and find appropriate housing before the big move?

The key to successful negotiating is developing ideas that benefit both sides. Rather than just demanding what you want, think about how this will benefit your prospective employer. For example, you could remind the employer that if selling your house gets sorted earlier on, it means that you can focus more on your work upon arrival and not stress about having to sell your home from a foreign country. Your hard work, clear head and focus will benefit the organisation in the long run since you will have an immediate impact. All of your time, attention and energy can be focused on what truly matters; your new position.

As stated above, the executive search consultant involved in the process can negotiate on your behalf. This means it’s important to let them know what it is that you want so that they can put a positive spin on it and persuade the employer.

3) Understand corporate psychology

Employers understand that their relocation policies reflect the reputation of the organisation. They want to be perceived as a good employer so that they attract top talent. This gives you an advantage when negotiating as they’ll be more likely to grant your wishes.

If you have another job offer on the cards that are offering relocation assistance but this one isn’t, then mention this when negotiating. For the right candidate, the employer will do just about anything to secure them. Hearing that their competitors are sniffing around will be a big enough incentive for them to offer some assistance. In the same line of thought, if the base salary is low, use this to negotiate a better relocation package.

4) Get it in writing

As with any important decision or contract, make sure to get it in writing. Once you’ve both come to an agreement, ask your employer to draw up a letter or contract describing the type of assistance agreed upon. With your plans laid out, this will help to organise you and your team if you know what expenses you have to cover yourself.

As with anything, read the small print before you sign anything. While they might not disclose the full extent of your relocation assistance in the contract, simply a mention will do just fine.


Internationally relocating for work is a big commitment. You’ll want to ensure the move is as stress-free as possible, and this lies in obtaining a generous relocation package.

Negotiating can be tough and intimidating, especially as you don’t want to risk putting off your prospective employer with a long list of demands. If an executive search consultant is involved in the hiring process, it might be best letting these seasoned negotiators take care of it for you.

A final point to consider is that any established life science organisation cares about their reputation. They want to be perceived as the best of the best and relocation packages play a big part of this. To protect their reputation and secure top talent capable of creating real change, they will do just about anything. Don’t forget that you hold as much power as they do during the negotiation stage.

For more job-search advice tailored to senior managers and executives in the life sciences…

* Fraser Dove International is a talent consultancy operating across the life sciences industry. While our roots lie in executive search, we provide more than the traditional recruitment services. Uniquely placed within the market, we have been providing cutting-edge talent solutions and insight to organisations at all stages of their journey – from start-up to established leaders – since 2013.