The world has seen an increasing shift towards globalization. The market for job seekers however, appears to have been left behind during this shift. The time when a college graduate would find a company and settle in for 20+ years is gone. With the shift towards globalization, it comes as no surprise that employees want to change jobs—and locations—frequently. Despite how increasingly common it is for job seekers to be in search of a role in a location different than their current one, the process is often very frustrating and complicated.
If you’re looking to re-locate and hoping to find a job in your new location before you arrive, consider these helpful tips on how to conduct your long distance job search.
Before You Begin Your Job Search
Learn about the city: nothing is worse than launching a full scale job search in the city of your dreams, only to realize your dreams were not founded in reality. Take the time to research the area that you are interested in relocating to; you may discover that you’re not a fan of the weather, culture, vibe, traffic or any number of other geographically dependent factors.
Develop a relocation budget: it’s important to know how much your move will cost, both so that you can prepare and to determine whether or not you’ll need to negotiate a relocation budget. Many employers do not offer relocation packages to candidates so putting together a rough estimate of how much you’ll need to cover the cost of moving your furniture, transporting your family, any lease termination fees you may occur if you’re breaking a contract early, future move-in costs (including the deposit and the first months rent), and the potential cost of vacancy if you plan to rent out your current home.
Create a timeline: having a clear understanding of your timeline for moving can help you determine when to begin job searching and scheduling visits. If your move is pre-determined by a spouse or partner’s job, you’ll likely have a firm date by which you have to move. Plan to begin job searching at least 3 months before that date. If your move is contingent upon finding a job, begin searching as soon as you’ve tied up any loose ends that would prevent you from moving if you landed a job within the new couple of weeks.
Determine job opportunities: certain locations lend themselves better to jobs in a specific field or industry. If you’re looking for a tech job, you’re more likely to have success in Seattle or San Francisco than you are in Memphis. Do a couple of quick searches to see the volume of positions that match your skill set in your desired location. If the volume is thin, you may have to expand your search to nearby areas or reconsider your location choice.
Make a list of target employers: another way to approach a job search, especially early on in your career when you’re not locked into a niche, is to target companies you’d like to work for, rather than seek out specific roles. If you’re just looking for roles within a broad category, such as Marketing or Legal, begin compiling a list of the major companies and employers located in your future city. This way you can check all the company websites frequently and scan for any open roles within your desired department(s).
During Your Job Search
Get creative with your address: one of the major hurdles to job searching long distance is the lack of a local address. Employers will usually prioritize a local candidate over a relocation candidate if their skill sets and experience are similar. Most will even use their applicant tracking system (ATS) to automatically screen out candidates with non-local zip codes. Luckily there are several ways to address this:
- Leave your address off your resume altogether. If you’re submitting resumes electronically or posting them on job boards, you can usually get away with only listing a phone number and email address. Your resume is more likely to slip through the ATS filters without a zip code at all than one from a different state.
- “Borrow” a local friend or relatives address to list on your resume. While it’s a little dishonest to list an address where you don’t actually reside, listing a local address can often get you in the door and begin a conversation. In the initial phone screen, the recruiter or hiring manager may confirm that you live in the area or ask if you’ve recently relocated (since most people include the location of their previous jobs on their resume). In these cases, honesty is usually the best policy. The hope is that once the employer is interested in hiring you, discovering you’re a relocation candidate will not deter them from continuing the interview process.
- Put a statement at the top of your resume that states your intent to relocate to “City, State.” The appearance of the city and state name may help you appear in ATS searches run by the recruiter or hiring manager, and will help make your intention to move clear. If you’re moving because your partner needs to relocate for a job to that area, it can be helpful to clearly state in your intention statement that your family will be moving to “City, State” on “Date” and you’re looking for positions in that area.
Look at career pages on local colleges/universities: while these resources are usually designed for graduating students, they can be a great starting point. Even if the jobs listed are not a good fit for your skill set or are too junior, you can get an idea of which companies exist in the area and launch your search on those company websites. You may even be able to get a name and phone number for a contact person within the company and use it to get your resume in front of a recruiter or hiring manager.
Network, network, network: as with any job search, networking is critical. While networking is harder from afar, technology makes it possible. Use Linkedin to research and find individuals within your network that currently live and work in the area where you want to move. Use individuals in your existing network to get an introduction to 2nd and 3rd degree connections that don’t already know but want to connect with. If you will be in the area where you’re looking to move, set up coffee meetings in advance of your trip with any individuals who are willing to speak with you about the local job scene.
If you’re able to connect with any hiring managers within companies that you are interested in, ask for an informal interview the next time you’re in town. Use it as an opportunity to introduce yourself and learn more the company. In the event that a future opportunity opens up within the company, you’ll be one step ahead of your competition before you even submit your resume.
Put your resume online: put your address on job boards and indicate clearly on your profile that you’re looking for jobs in the “City, State” where you are moving. Recruiters often use job boards to source candidates; having your resume up on job boards allows recruiters to contact you if you’re a good fit for a position.
Long distance job searching can be tiring and stressful, however, the end result is often an exciting new job opportunity. Taking the time to research and conduct a through job search, even from afar, can help minimize the stress and increase your odds of success.