Long-Distance Job Search Do’s and Don’ts

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by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.

Here are the keys to a smooth long-distance job search. When job-seekers follow these simple rules and guidelines, you should avoid many of the stresses of seeking employment from a distance.

  • Do research your new city to make sure it suits you. See our expanded relocation resources, especially the sites that rate various cities.
  • Do read our article, New City, New Job: How to Conduct a Long-Distance Job Search.
  • Do devise an overall strategy for relocating, including timing, a relocation budget, and planning for any scouting trips in advance of your move.
  • Do determine your job opportunities in your new location. Check out geographic-specific job sites.
  • Do look at the career-planning Web sites of colleges in the area you plan to locate to.
  • Do explore the possibility of reciprocity agreements between college career centers if you’re a new graduate. Your own college likely has a reciprocal agreement with colleges in your new locale that will allow you to use the resources of those colleges’ career centers.
  • Do make a list of employers to target in your new city and identify key people to contact. A list of about 20 employers is a good goal to shoot for, and you should conduct additional research into these target companies using our guidelines to researching companies.
  • Don’t forget about using our Quintessential Careers Directory of Company Career Centers to help you research and contact major targeted companies.
  • Do plan to “cold call” any employers at which you don’t have a potential contact. Cold-calling consists of writing (and then calling) hiring managers at these organizations and ask about job openings and possibilities. You may want to read Cold Calling: A Time-Tested Method of Job-Hunting.
  • Do make sure your cover letter is in good shape and briefly explains your relocation to employers. For help with cover letters, visit Quintessential Careers: Cover Letter Resources, which includes a link to our Cover Letter Tutorial.
  • Do include headhunters/recruiters/executive-search firms among those organizations you contact in your new city. You can search for these professionals by location using Oya’s Recruiter Directory.
  • Do consult newspaper employment ads online, which can be accessed through Quintessential Careers: Classified Job Listings Sites.
  • Do read the non-classified portion of your new city’s newspaper, particularly the business section, to learn about employment trends and especially new businesses opening in or relocating to the city. Most newspapers can be perused online.
  • Don’t forget that networking is the best way to get a job, so brainstorm ways you might be able to network in your new city using professional associations, friends, colleagues, and alumni associations, not only of your college but your sorority/fraternity or other college clubs.
  • Do tap into your significant other’s network if you’re relocating to be with a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or fiance/e;. If you’re moving because a spouse or fiance/e has been transferred, check into whether your significant other’s company offers any consulting or monetary resources for your job search.
  • Do plan at least one trip to the new city before your actual relocation, including a preliminary exploratory trip in which you can conduct informational interviews to expand your network in the new city. Find out more about how to set up and conduct informational interviews.
  • Do offer the employers the possibility of conducting a phone interview with you in advance of an in-person meeting. You may want to read our article, Phone Interview Etiquette Can Propel You to the Next Step in the Hiring Process.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask if the employer plans to play your travel expenses for coming to an interview. It’s better to know beforehand; employers shouldn’t be offended by the question.
  • Don’t state in your cover letter that you will relocate at your own expense. Moving expenses don’t enter the picture until a job offer is in the making.
  • Do make the most of your second — or perhaps only — trip to your new city, by having as many interviews lined up as possible.
  • Do investigate the possibility of any career fairs, relevant professional conferences, or trade shows planned for your new area and perhaps plan your trip based on the date of the scheduled event(s).
  • Don’t scrap a trip to your new city if you are not successful in lining up job interviews before your trip there; instead line up some informational interviews.
  • Do ask for relocation help as part of the negotiation of your compensation package, but don’t count on getting your relocation expenses paid. do remember, however, that relocation expenses for work are tax deductible. See our Salary Negotiation Tools for more assistance.
  • If the planned date for your move is looming and you still don’t have a job lined up, do consider temping in your new city. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door in a new locale. See our article Temping Offers a Way to Build Your Resume — and Much More and our Temping Resources.
  • Don’t, however, accept a lower-level position in your new locale just to have a job. You probably won’t be happy, and you may be digging your career’s grave.
  • do see our expanded relocation resources for assistance with the actual move. You may also want to check out one of the relocation books in our relocation books section of the Quintessential Careers Bookstore.
  • If, after researching your new city or after an unproductive job hunt there, you should decide you want to stay put, be sure you don’t burn any bridges in your current city or place of employment! An amicable break also will serve you well if you ever want to return to your former city and employer.

Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.

Katharine Hansen, PhD, QuintCareers.com Creative Director Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for Quintessential Careers, edits QuintZine, an electronic newsletter for jobseekers, and blogs about storytelling in the job search at A Storied Career. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). Visit her personal Website or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.

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