Managing a Long Distance Job Search

Managing a Long Distance Job Search

Taunee Besson, CMF, Senior Columnist

Imagine the following scenario: Where you live, unemployment is at 10.7%. Even in spring, the weather is still cold and wet. You've been burglarized for the second time in as many months. Yesterday's commute took almost two hours – a new record. The only theater in town closed last week. Your spouse just got transferred. Or your family's persistent encouragement has finally convinced you to move closer to home.

If any of these problems sound familiar, it may be time to find work in another city. But if you're anything like the majority of relocating job seekers, chances are you're looking forward to the adventure of the move a lot more than the struggle of finding a new job – especially if you lack contacts at your new destination.

Fortunately, while a long distance job search is more difficult than a local one, many of the techniques that work well in your neighborhood will be effective thousands of miles away as well. With the right plan in place, you can amass enough information to decide both where to move and which companies to target, so you can quickly find employment once you get there.

Things You Should Know before You Decide to Move

Whether you've identified where to relocate to or not, there are some issues you'll want to research about any potential destination. Make a list so you can rate your potential new home according to the following key criteria. If you fail to take this first step, you could wind up going across the country (or the globe) only to find yourself stuck in another poor job market.

Taxes, real estate, services, clothing, food and a variety of other items will determine how much your income will stretch or shrink in a given locale. This is important when considering the salary level you need to shoot for.

If you have children, the quality of local education is very important. Even if you don't, the eventual resale value of your home will be impacted by this critical consideration.

If you spend too much time traveling to work, determining the cities or towns with the most hassle-free commutes will improve your attitude and give you more personal time.

People who move from Tyler, Texas to New York City or vice versa are bound to experience some culture shock. Learning what to expect in terms of the local politics, recreational and cultural opportunities, restaurants and shopping, attitudes about strangers and other norms can be helpful in deciding if a place will fit your lifestyle.

If you have a choice of where you want to move, it makes sense to pick a city where the job market is growing, as opposed to one where residents are struggling to find work. It also helps to know if your industry is well represented, and find out the typical income someone with your experience might expect to get.

If you don't plan to change careers, you'll need to identify locations that have a wide variety of companies in your field. Cities with diverse economies are preferable, since these are more likely to present you with multiple opportunities. Moving to a single "company town" when that company already has a full staff, for example, is a bad idea.

The three keys to a successful job search are contacts, contacts and contacts. Professionals in your field know where the openings are. To get the scoop on a local job market, you'll need to join the networks of people already working there. And to do this, your networking skills will need to be top notch.

  1. Cost of Living
  2. Schools
  3. Commuting Time
  4. Philosophy and Life Style Issues
  5. The Economy
  6. Potential Employers
  7. Contacts and Job Openings

Internet Resources: What They Can Tell You

In the past, learning about the quality of the job market in far-off locales was difficult, and seeing a list of available job openings in your industry was simply impossible. Thanks to an explosion of online job search resources, however, these days you can conduct much of your search before you move – and if a company conducts interviews via video conference, you might even be able to land a job at your destination without ever leaving home.

Online job boards are invaluable tools for your long distance job search. However, there are other, less obvious sources of information that could help you put together a successful job hunt from a remote location. Here are just a few that you may not have considered:

Local news often chronicles major issues regarding schools, government, neighborhoods, crime, taxes, politics, and community hot buttons, giving you insight into what life is really like in any given city. In addition, the site's classifieds section can be used to determine the typical cost of homes, apartments, cars, household items, clothing, food and recreation.

Many cities have weekly business journals that provide inside info on what's happening in the local economy. They tend to offer more detail on companies, industries, and corporate leaders, which can be used to identify and target specific companies you'd like to work for.

Local organizations designed to encourage people to move to a city can have a myriad of free information, on everything from taxes to recreational opportunities. Relocation centers specialize in materials tailored to the needs of incoming professionals. Just ask and you will receive.

There are many directories which list corporations, executive search firms, trade journals, and professional and social service organizations. You can usually find them online.

Once you're ready to make a list of places where you'd like to work, looking up each company's annual report can give you more specific background info on where the organization is heading. Of course, this info will be presented in a positive way, so if you want to avoid winding up at a company in the middle of a free-fall, cross-check any information with local business journals.

  1. Local newspaper websites
  2. Local business journals
  3. Chambers of commerce, city government, and relocation centers
  4. Industry, corporate and organization directories
  5. Corporate annual reports

Senior Columnist Taunee Besson, CMF, is president of Career Dimensions, Inc., a consulting firm founded in 1979 that works with individual and corporate clients in career transition, job search, executive coaching, talent management and small business issues. She is an award-winning columnist for and a best-selling author of the Wall Street Journal's books on resumes and cover letters. Her articles on a variety of career issues have appeared on numerous career/job websites and trade and business journals. Ms. Besson has been quoted numerous times in The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Business Week, Time, Smart Money, and a number of other websites and publications.

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