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5 tips to find a job in a new city

Job hunting is tough! I once heard someone say that finding a new job is a full time job without the financial benefits. You have to be focused and organized, motivated and excited. You need to dedicate an entire folder in Gmail for reply emails. You may even need to buy a new suit.

Like a job, a job search is an investment in your future.  It requires countless hours researching companies and positions, updating your resume, applying for positions, preparing for interviews, funding travel costs, dealing with lost "sick days" or lost paid time off and lost family time for interviews – all in the hopes that somewhere out there, under the seemingly endless stack of listings and applications, your new job is waiting to be found.

I'm only talking about a job in your own backyard – one in your town or just a few exits down the highway. Now, imagine the complexity of looking for a new position in another state or country. Where do you even begin?

Before I joined CH2M, I worked for an executive search firm in Chicago and my husband was an engineer working in the suburbs. After three years in the city and one year in the ‘burbs, we decided the Chicagoland area wasn’t home sweet home anymore. Fortunately, I worked for a flexible employer that allowed me to work from home, but it’s impossible to be a manufacturing engineer and telecommute, so my husband started a job search in December. Every night after work, he jumped on the computer and plodded through posting after posting hunting for a new job (this was before LinkedIn – if you can even remember a time before LinkedIn!). He became an expert cover letter writer, a champion of the 50-meter attach-the-resume dash. If they gave out Oscars for Best Performance in Diligently Looking for a Job, he’d have been the clear winner. For two months, he didn’t hear back from a single person. Not one. Finally, in February, he was (very excitedly) called by a few companies. Eight weeks later, he had two in-person interviews and eventually an offer near Grand Rapids, Michigan.

If you're moving and searching for jobs in a new area, here are tips to make the long distance job search a little easier:

  1. If you already have a new address in the new location, list that as your address on your resume (or the city and state if you’re concerned about privacy). Recruiters usually review local candidates first.
  2. If you don't have an address yet, put the aspirational city location in your contact information and include your most recent employer’s location in the employment history section. You may be called in for an interview with short notice, so prepare a response to why you can’t drop by tomorrow at 9am.
  3. Update your social media profiles, especially LinkedIn, with your desired location if you're openly searching for a new job (i.e. only if you are not confidentially looking). Many corporate and third party recruiters will search LinkedIn profiles for jobs that they have open, and once again, local candidates always get top billing.
  4. Saying you’ll move for a job is usually not enough evidence to convince hiring managers to consider you as an out-of-town candidate. Include a cover letter that clearly explains why you are moving to that specific location. If you’re able, mention that you don’t need relocation assistance. Add the date or timeframe you're moving, so the hiring manager knows you're committed to moving. You can say something like:

Dear Ryan,

. . . I’m very interested in CH2M and ABC position because . . . I’m applying to this position in Denver, CO to return to my home state and to be closer to family.

  1. Hiring managers are also hesitant to consider out of town candidates due to the costs associated with interview travel expenses. If you’re able, mention that you don’t need interview travel expenses covered. If you get the job, you’ll be paid back tenfold for your efforts thanks to a stable paycheck and (hopefully) a long-lasting career that brings you joy. You can also offer to interview by phone or via video conference.

Sure, it’s challenging looking for a new job in another city. My husband spent an average of two hours a night for four months hunting for – and then thankfully securing – a job that he loves. It was worth the work, of course. It always is worth the work, because as we all know, nothing in life worth having comes easily. Not only was the new job a good fit, his commute went from seven miles in forty-five minutes down to only five minutes. Less time in the car means more time for him to spend with our family.

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