I need some commitment in return


I am going to start a new position as a VP of Engineering and will be moving my family. I feel the top three things in my search are:
1. good fit
2. job security
3. salary

How do I ask to be guaranteed at least five years of work in this position (because this will let my youngest be out of high school) without offending the company I am interviewing with?

I plan on staying with the company until I retire but I do not want to put my kids through the stress of changing schools again.

I am moving my family away from other family and friends and selling a house in a depressed market. I feel I am making a huge commitment to the company.

Brian, Boston MI

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Chris Conti's Answer:

It is a very rare case indeed where a US based employer will give an assurance to an executive concerning the term of the employment. It does occur in some industries, media and entertainment comes to mind, but generally there are no "for term" contracts. Instead people are hired "at will."

Many times, because of this reality, we see candidates who are reluctant to relocate to a geography that could not support their next move if this current one did not work out.

For this person's situation, we would advise him to be up front with his hiring manager about the reasons for his interest in the role. He has clearly set forth his priorities and his new boss should understand these.

Given his level in the company, it is highly likely that his boss and peers have similar family related concerns. Moving kids who are still in high school is always a difficult situation. Perhaps the candidate can work with his boss to set up some 3-5 year goals for things they'd like to accomplish in this new assignment.

If he has a reasonable manager and shows progress toward those goals, he can in essence insure that his tenure will be at least 5 years long.

As a hedging strategy, it would be useful to get active in some local professional organizations as soon as he's situated in the new town. Then if he senses things aren't working out as he would've liked, he already has a headstart in terms of local networking and relationship building.


About our Expert

Chris Conti
Chris Conti

Chris Conti is a Partner with executive search firm, CTPartners. He is a founding member of the firm's Technology, Media and Telecommunications Practice and also works extensively with private equity clients in San Francisco and New York