With the dramatic increase in the average time it takes to land a new job in the “post-recession” economy, it is not surprising that many job seekers have taken their searches beyond the local level, even to a national or international scope. In a slow executive job market, more and more of my clients are broadening their horizons to look at employment opportunities far from their current location–some with enthusiasm and others with great reluctance.
A relocation strategy presents some difficulties that are not present in a local search. There are a number of practical steps you can follow, some of which have the primary goal of establishing yourself as a local, even though you do not yet reside in your target city. Some of these tips will of course apply only if you have narrowed down your targets to a single city, but many will apply even if you have multiple possible relocation targets.
1. Research and select one or several potential relocation targets.
2. Identify and research companies located in your target cities for which you would like to work.
3. Establish a local address for use when you apply for positions. Use it on all of your application materials (executive resumes, cover letters, bios, etc.).
4. Find and sign up for job alerts on geography-specific job sites. Submit your executive resume and cover letter with the localized contact info on them.
5. Subscribe to and read local publications, both online and print, including newspapers, business journals, entertainment and arts publications, etc.
6. Leverage LinkedIn’s capabilities to launch your search into high gear:
a. Follow companies in your target city or cities
b. Establish relationships with locally based recruiters
c. Join locally based LinkedIn groups and participate in discussions
d. Identify and contact connections or connections of connections on LinkedIn who live in your target city, especially any who work for one of your targeted companies.
7. Make sure you can readily articulate your “story” regarding why you wish to or are in the process of relocating. Examples might be that you have friends and/or family in the area or perhaps that you want to live in an area with (insert here whatever it is that you like about the area–outdoor activities, climate, arts and culture, vibrant economy, etc.).
8. Consider investing in travel costs for out-of-town interviews. Many of the better companies who are looking to hire an executive will arrange and pay for transportation and overnight hotel for an interview, but don’t expect it. Now that you’ve had first contact, presumably they know that you are not currently based in town. However, you have worked hard to present yourself as easily accessible and hopefully gotten past the first hurdle of being viewed as an (expensive to hire) out of town candidate by establishing a local address and contacts. So don’t erase all of that by pressing for a trip on their dime.
Paying for your own interview trip is expensive financially and time-wise, but it can pay off. Do note one big caveat: Do not give the impression that you are coming to town just to see them, unless you want to be perceived as desperate. Rather, set up some other employer or recruiter interviews or at least a list of companies you might drop in on during your visit, so you can honestly say you are going to be in town anyway.
9. Begin to make self-relocation plans (if you can afford it)… either to be executed upon landing a job or perhaps if your situation permits to relocate while your job search is still underway.If you do this and can honestly tell a potential employer that your relocation is imminent, it will reduce your chance of being eliminated from consideration due to the fear of high costs in relocating you. Of course, if your new employer offers to pay for your move, all the better.
10. Lastly, and possibly most important: If you are seriously considering a move to your target city or cities, invest the time and money to go there, and bring along your spouse or significant other who would be relocating with you. (You can kill two birds with one stone by scheduling some informational, recruiter, or job interviews for during this visit.) The last thing you want to happen is to get to the job offer stage or worse yet, have arrived with your moving van, pets and children in tow only to find that the target city’s environment, amenities, and lifestyle are not suitable for you and your family’s long-term happiness.
Years ago my husband and I followed these strategies for one of our state-to-state moves (all except for one of the most powerful, LinkedIn, which did not exist then). We self-financed a week of exploration in our target city during which he’d prearranged about a half dozen interviews. He fielded multiple job offers from that effort, and accepted one of them.