You've decided it's time for a fresh start in a new location. But how
do you go about landing a job in a new locale when your current
location is far from your destination?
Making a geographic move to enhance your career should not be a
hassle if you do some planning before you move. What are the best
strategies and tips for a long-distance job-search? Here are some steps
to consider when mounting a long-distance job search:
Learn as much as you can about the city to which you wish to
relocate, if for no other reason than to make sure that's where you
really want to be. Make sure you'll be able to afford the cost of
living in that city. Decide whether you'll be content with the city's
climate and cultural offerings. Lots of sites on the Internet can
help with city research and relocation information. See our expanded
especially the sites that rate various cities.
Devise an overall strategy for relocating. Decide approximately
when you'll make the move. Determine whether you'll be able to make
one or more scouting trips to the area before you relocate. The ideal
would be to make two trips -- one exploratory trip to expand your
network, conduct informational interviews, and investigate housing,
and a second trip dedicated to job interviews and finalizing details.
Knowing that the average job search can take anywhere from three
months to a year, ask yourself if you can afford to make the move if
you don't have a new job lined up at moving time. Develop a
relocation budget, and don't forget security deposits, rent, mortgage
payments -- possibly in both new and old locations -- and
incidentals, such as postage and long-distance phone costs. Be
prepared to discuss some of the details of your relocation (such as
timing and your reason for moving) in your cover letters and
interviews with employers in the new locale.
Determine your job opportunities in your new location, which you
can do in a several ways. Conduct research to find out which major
employers are located in the city to which you wish to move. You can
go to a library and get a phone book for your new city. You can also
check out geographic-specific
job sites at Quintessential Careers. For books that
tell about job opportunities in various cities, see the Adams JobBank
book series in our Quintessential Careers
or in your library. We also have a few relocation-specific books in our
relocation books bookstore.
You should also contact the Chamber of Commerce in your new city and request a
membership directory. Also remember to consider the possibility that employers in your
current location, including your own employer, could have offices in
your target city.
Another great resource for getting a feel for the employment
scene in a new locale is through the career-planning Web sites of
local colleges, advises career counselor Doris Flaherty in her
interview with Quintessential Careers. "As always, some Web sites are more
informative than others, but I usually come up with several good
leads for the geographical area of interest. Any college usually has
more focus on its surrounding area since the majority of the
graduates will find work there," Flaherty says.
If you're a new graduate, explore the possibility of reciprocity
agreements between college career centers. 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.
These reciprocal arrangements may even be available to alumni, or
perhaps you are an alum of a college in your new city and can use its
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. Our
Careers Directory of Company Career Centers can help you research and
contact major targeted companies. 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
Calling: A Time-Tested Method of Job-Hunting. The cold-calling
process includes submitting your resume with a cover letter to
various companies in hopes of establishing a relationship and
inquiring about employment opportunities. Your cover letter is an
extremely important part of your cold-calling direct-mail campaign,
and you can use the research you've done on your targeted companies
to show off your insider knowledge. For help with cover letters,
Careers: Cover Letter Resources, which includes a link to our
Cover Letter Tutorial.
Include headhunters/recruiters/executive-search firms among
those organizations you contact in your new city. You can search for
these professionals by location using one of more of the directories found
in this section of Quintessential Careers:
Directories & Associations.
Although only about 5 percent of job-seekers find their jobs
through employment ads, want ads are still a viable part of the job
search, especially when you're relocating. In the "old days,"
job-seekers who wanted to move to a new city would subscribe to the
new city's newspaper, particularly the Sunday edition, so they could
scope out the employment ads for that city. In the Internet age, it's
much easier to check out employment ads because most metropolitan
newspapers have their employment ads available online. So, be sure to
check out those ads, many of which can be accessed through
Careers: Classified Job Listings Sites.
Also 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.
Remember, though, that networking is the best way to get a job,
so brainstorm ways you might be able to network in your new city.
Start contacting those in your network, especially in your new
location, and let them know you are relocating and looking for a new
job there. Also think of ways to network with people in the companies
you decided to target. In a survey we did to research our book,
Foot in the Door,
professional associations were cited as, by far, the No. 1 venue for
networking. Locate chapters of professional organizations in your
field and in your new city and join them. Once you join, you often
receive a membership directory. Start networking with members of the
organizations using methods described on Brian Krueger's Web site,
College Grad Job Hunter.
An article on the University Job Bank Web site describes a job-seeker who sent a
postcard to every member of the professional association she belonged
to her in her area telling them she was relocating to San Francisco.
She asked them for names of contacts they knew in San Francisco.
Focus your efforts on building a network of people in your desired
new location not only through professional associations, but also
through friends and colleagues. Another great networking source is
alumni associations, not only of your college but your
sorority/fraternity or other college clubs.
People often relocate to be with a spouse, boyfriend,
girlfriend, or fiance/e; tap into your significant other's network,
as well. 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.
As mentioned above, ideally you should plan to make at least one
trip to the new city before your actual relocation. If you are able
to make a preliminary exploratory trip, you can use it to conduct
informational interviews to expand your network in the new city.
These interviews will provide you with a networking "in" at companies
at which you previously didn't have one. You can ask interviewees
which companies would be the best to apply to, advice for breaking
in, and names of other contacts for your network. Find out more about
how to set up and conduct
not ideal, you can also conduct informational interviews via phone or
e-mail from your current location.
When you contact prospective employers in your destination city
by letter or e-mail, explain that you are relocating and tell them
when. If you are relocating for personal reasons, it's fine to say
so. People move all the time, so changing geographic locations should
not be an issue. Whether writing cover letters that respond to ads or
"cold-contact" cover letters to employers in your new city, offer the
employers the possibility of conducting a phone interview with you in
advance of an in-person meeting. Employers may be more willing to
conduct initial screening interviews with long-distance candidates by
phone if they can avoid worrying initially about the expense of
getting you to a face-to-face meeting. You may want to read our
Interview Etiquette Can Propel You to the Next Step in the Hiring Process.
Is it ever appropriate to request a prospective employer to pay for
your airline ticket to an out-of-state interview? The best employers
-- and certainly those seeking higher-level executives -- will buy
your airline ticket, arrange for your transportation from the airport
to your hotel, and pay for your hotel stay. Some pre-pay, others
reimburse. Smaller firms, employers in certain industries, and
companies hiring lower-level employees often do not pay for travel
expenses and use the approach, "When you're in the area, give us a
call and we'll set up an interview" to get around paying expenses. If
you have any questions about who is paying, be sure to ask. It's
better to know beforehand; employers shouldn't be offended by the
Interview travel expenses are one thing; relocation costs are another
issue entirely. Stating in your cover letter that you will relocate
at your own expense may not be a wise idea. Committing yourself at
that early a stage in the job-hunting process to funding your own
relocation makes you sound a bit too desperate, and employers tend to
shy away from such people. Being available for interviews is what is
important at this phase; moving expenses don't enter the picture
until a job offer is in the making.
In your second -- or perhaps only -- trip to your new city, plan
to make the most of your visit by having as many interviews lined up
as possible. Before you go, set up interviews with potential
employers and recruitment agencies. Schedule these interviews by
making follow-up calls to all the employers and recruiters you've
contacted so far in your new city. Tell them you'll be in town on
such-and-such a date, and you'd like to schedule an interview. You
can also see if any career fairs, relevant professional conferences,
or trade shows are planned for your new area and even plan your trip
based on the date the event is scheduled. If you are not successful
in lining up job interviews before your trip to the new city, at
least line up some informational interviews.
Now, what about those relocation costs? You can 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
Negotiation Tools for more assistance.
Temping is one thing, but avoid, if you possibly can, accepting
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.
The experience of one of our former students illustrates this point:
Amy had spent months looking for a job before graduation, but when
graduation arrived and she still did not have a job in the city she
was relocating to, she moved anyway. She figured once there, she
would simply pound the pavement every day until she got the offer of
her dreams. A few weeks went by, and her savings began drying up. She
heard of an administrative position with a sales and marketing team
at her dream company and decided to apply for it even though it did
not even require a college degree. She mistakenly thought that once
she was working for the company, she could easily transfer to a
position that matched her skills and education. She received raves in
her performance reviews ; she was a highly-regarded member of the
team. About 15 months into the administrative job a marketing
position opened in another department, and Amy assumed she would
transfer into that department. The other department manager was not
interested in hiring and training an "administrative assistant" for a
marketing position, and her own manager decided she was "too valuable
a member of the team" to push her case. She eventually had to leave
the company and regroup before she could finally find a permanent
position in marketing -- almost five years after she had graduated
with her marketing degree.
If, after researching your new city or after an unproductive job
hunt there, you should decide you want to stay put, be sure you
haven't burned 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.
A long-distance job search can be stressful, but remember that
getting a fresh new start can be an exciting and rewarding adventure.
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, Ph.D., creative director and associate
publisher of Quintessential Careers, is an educator, author,
and blogger who provides content for Quintessential Careers,
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
or reach her by e-mail at