Relocating candidates is expensive and risky. As a general rule, it’s better avoided unless absolutely necessary.
That said, there are lots of circumstances where relocation is required. If the talent you need can’t be sourced in the local market, there is no choice but to look farther afield.
In my experience, the single biggest risk comes from a candidate’s family. Family dynamics are always complicated, and it’s an area where hiring managers and recruiters have limited insight. In fact, sometimes I think the candidates themselves have less insight into their own families than they would like to believe.
What can be done to manage the risk? I covered this topic in Mastering the Art of Recruiting. Here’s a brief excerpt:
You’re often moving a family, not just one person, and there are a host of risks that you may never see. The best way to mitigate them is to make sure the candidate has everything she needs to keep her family happy. Make sure her spouse has plenty of time to explore the area, preferably with someone who can show it off in the best possible light. If the spouse needs to find new employment, do everything you can to assist with that process. If there are children and there is a need to identify a new school, see if you can help. Try to create conditions for the new executive’s family to have a successful transition and integration into their new home. If her family is miserable, the candidate won’t perform at her best and may end up leaving.
In short, successful relocation requires a lot of handholding, and even then you will lose some candidates at the last minute when a spouse or child stages a revolt against the idea of a move.
Enter the process with your eyes open to the risks, and do your best.