Finding a job when relocating to a new city can prove challenging and frustrating. In fact, some career experts say it’s near impossible to successfully run a long-distance job search until you actually make the move.
For any of you who have tried before, you might feel this is true. In the current economy, you’ll probably be competing against a surplus of locals vying for potentially fewer positions, where hiring managers are more likely to lean local in making initial interview decisions.
I’ve been there. My husband’s career has taken us to a couple of different states, and I understand the fear and anxiety that come with a job hunt as you’re moving to a new community. The first time I attempted to look for employment in a different state was a disaster. Thankfully, when it came time to move out of state yet again, I had learned a few things.
The best things you can do are prepare before the move and be brave after the move. (Click here to tweet this idea.) Here are a few tips for making yourself more marketable to the locals:
Before You Move: Preparing Your Career for a Long-Distance Transition
1. Update Your Online Presence
Make sure your online accounts, including LinkedIn, are up to date. You’ll want to update your education, experience and contact information if they’ve changed, and you’ll also want to consider adding that you’re available for hire and what you’re looking for in a position.
If you’re 100% committed to a new city, go ahead and update that as well—it will show you’re serious about the move and ready to embrace being a local. Plus, when hiring managers are searching for local recruits, you’ll start showing up in the proper city.
2. Research Employers in Your Future Community
Get to know your options. If you work in a niche industry, you’ll want to start your online search there—but if your skills are broad enough and you could work in multiple fields or positions, try some more diverse online searches.
Look for lists of the largest employers in the city, as well as “best places to work” awards. Sometimes groups like Young Professionals or chambers of commerce give annual awards for companies that are choice employers in town, and these lists can give you insight into who you might want to look into as potential employers.
Start a list of employers you want to keep on your “Watch List.” Your Watch List should consist of organizations you want to reach out to after you move or that you want to keep an eye on for possible job postings. Don’t forget to include surrounding communities in your keyword search; there might be a great employer just one town over who doesn’t show up when you do your original search.
3. Research the Local Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Association and Betterment Organizations
Members of these groups tend to be community leaders and often have the inside scoop on who’s hiring, even if the posting isn’t public. By learning the names and associations of these individuals, you’ll have a better understanding of who you should get to know when you arrive in person and what’s happening in town. Add these contacts to a “Network List” which will function much like your Watch List.
4. Research Service Clubs and Meetup Groups
Networking is key to finding a job—and when you’re moving to a new community, the more people you can get to know, the better.
Look online for service clubs or Meetup groups you would be interested in joining, and reach out to them for more information. See if any of the clubs you’re currently part of have chapters in your new community. Contact these groups to let them know you’re moving to town and would love more information about what they do, or ask them what you should know before moving to town. You’ll be surprised how enthusiastic people are to share their town with newcomers and help you get acquainted with things.
And don’t forget to add them to your Network List!
5. Reach Out to Your Current Network
Let your friends, family and even general acquaintances know about your upcoming move and see if they “know anyone who knows anyone” who might be able to give you some leads on potential employment.
Do a search on LinkedIn to see if any of your connections have relationships in your new community; if so, ask for a casual introduction. Don’t make the introduction a sales pitch or pressure them for career leads; just let them know you’ll be new to the area and are interested in meeting other people during the transition. Don’t randomly ask people to connect on social media just because you see they live in the community you’re moving to—that’s just creepy. Again, add any new contacts to your Network List.
6. Thank Your Current Employer and Clients
Don’t burn bridges; you never know when you’ll cross paths again or need their help. Send thank you notes to those you currently work with and, when appropriate, ask for letters of recommendation or references from your current professional connections. This is also a great time to start giving recommendations and endorsements on LinkedIn; you’ll find many people will return the favor.
7. Create Business Cards
This might seem silly at first if you’re about to enter unemployment, but you’re also about to (hopefully) meet a lot of new people, and you’ll want to be prepared to share with the them how they can reach you and what your specialty is.
8. Line Up Freelance Work
If you have the option to do some long-distance work for previous employers or clients, take advantage of the opportunity to keep yourself busy in the transition. Even if it’s not a long-term option, it will relieve some stress to have some income coming in. It will also let you test the waters to see if you like contract work or could pick up some similar work in the new community.
9. Prepare Your Resume (Both Print and Digital)
Even though you really want to find a new position sooner rather than later, if you can wait until you’re in town with a local address, your odds may be better at getting a serious response. (You could consider using a P.O. box in the meantime if you have someone to monitor it for you.)
You’ll definitely want to have your resume ready in case a great opportunity comes along from all your preparatory networking. Have a print-ready file prepared, as well as an online resume or personal landing page like about.me. For help on setting up a personal landing page, see here.
After You Move: Time to Put Your Research to Work (and Be Brave!)
Get involved in your new community by volunteering. It’s an easy way to meet people and can also fill the gaps on your resume during times of unemployment.
2. Make a Coffee Date
If you’re not a social butterfly, this is going to seem awkward at first, but that’s why I said it’s time to be brave.
Remember that Network List? Set up a casual meeting to get to know some of the people you’ve discovered during your research phase, including leaders of the organizations or Meetups you’ve discovered. This is not the time to ask anyone for a job, just a way to strategically network and get to know your new community members.
3. Join the Chamber of Commerce, a Service Club or Meetup Group
Now is the time to put your research to work, so don’t be shy! Once you’ve learned which groups are available, join one or two. You need to really commit to attending and getting to know the other members, or it won’t be worth it.
If you’re struggling to find a group you’re truly interested in, consider starting your own and inviting other people with similar interests, or just other new community members who may be looking to connect.
4. Tour the Town
Whatever you do, don’t isolate yourself in your new home. Walk the dog, visit an art gallery or just hit the streets and explore your community. The more you know about your new town, the easier it will be to connect with the locals.
Potential employers want to know you’re interested in sticking around, so prepare yourself for interview small talk by building up knowledge of the local scene—and while you’re at it, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a stranger. You just might meet someone to give your new business card to.
5. Keep Building Your Brand
Make sure you keep up your online image and continue blogging or writing guest posts and articles that showcase your expertise. You need your online professional image to be better than ever, so stay on top of your online networking and identity building.
6. Search the “Want Ads”
Ask your new connections where the best place is to look for new jobs in the area. Each community has their own go-to method of sharing new positions. Sometimes it’s a local magazine; sometimes it’s a community website or a government-led, statewide job search site. You may have already looked at a few of them, but you might hear of something you hadn’t thought of yet.
7. Host a Neighborhood Get-Together
Invite your new neighbors over for a few drinks or cook out so you can get to know them better. It never hurts to know who you’re living by and, again, networking is your best friend, so don’t be shy. Let your guests know what type of work you would like to be doing and see if they have any suggestions for you.
8. Break Out Your Watch List
Now that you’ve finally arrived, you can take out your list of potential employers and start contacting them. Even if they don’t have a job opening listed, ask if you could come for a visit or tour their company. The goal is to put your name out there and get to know them better.
A smart organization will take the time to meet with you because they know that even if they’re not hiring now, they could be someday, and they’ll want to know potential leads just as much as you do. Don’t get upset if they decline; just thank them for considering it and let them know you’re open to meeting in the future if their schedule ever allows.
9. Sign Up for a Class
Again, it’s all about networking, so even an exercise class will do. But if there’s an opportunity to take continued education or community college classes in your new town, consider bulking up your employment marketability with a new skill. Local colleges and universities can also provide career assistance to students through their career center.
So, To Sum It All Up:
- Prepare ahead of time by doing your research and learning as much about potential employers and your new community as you can before you move.
- Once you’ve moved, put your research to work and start networking to build up your local image.
Got it? Then get out there and start connecting! Best of luck on your move and future career endeavors!
Laurie Morse-Dell is a personal branding and social media coach focused on empowering individuals to succeed on their own terms. She has spent over a decade building a successful career in strategic marketing for small businesses, government agencies, non-profits and international corporations. She then realized her true passion was in helping other women use strategic marketing to get what they desired out of their careers. Laurie uses her expertise in marketing and technology to teach job seekers how to build their online image, become indispensable and be in-demand.