A senior at the University of North Florida writes: “Although UNF’s Career Management Center has strong relationship with local employers, due to the tough job market I am less inclined to limit my job search to only Jacksonville. Is there a more efficient way to search for jobs in other cities aside from services like Monster.com?”
In this economy, it’s a smart idea to expand your job search to other cities. Being willing to relocate can give you an edge over jobseekers who are established in one place with children in school, homes they can’t sell, and spouses with their own careers. You’ll never be less encumbered than you are as a young student, so market your flexibility as an advantage. Here are some tips to make your search outside the area more strategic.
- Consider local companies with other locations first. One of the biggest challenges in a long distance job search is being able to respond to interview requests quickly. If you’re more than a few hours away, you can’t attend an interview on just one day’s notice, which makes you a less attractive candidate. If a company has a local office, you can interview here and be considered for opportunities or transfer to another site. If you are considering other cities as job targets, start with cities that you can drive to within a few hours first. That way, you can make interviews on relatively short notice, and you can explore the city by car to get to know the terrain and whether you’d like to live there.
- Get to know the cities you’re targeting – create a short list of two or three that you will seriously consider. It can be tempting to be open to any job, anywhere, in this economy, but there’s more to life than work. Here are some points to research in the cities you’re considering:
- Cost of living. Use the online version of the local newspaper to examine rent and housing prices. Make sure you understand how far your salary will go in the new market – especially if it sounds like much more or much less than you’d earn for the same job in Jacksonville. Similar Jobs are usually valued the same; it’s the cost of living that determines how they’re priced in the local market. www.realtor.com offers photos and pricing comparisons on housing for any market, and www.salary.com offers resources to help you compare offers in different regions of the country.
- Neighborhood locations, commute times and public transportation. Figure out where the job might be relative to the neighborhoods you’re interested in. Your commute time and cost will be a huge factor in your quality of life, so it pays to look into this carefully. Take a look at crime statistics in the place you’re considering for work and residence, too – you can usually inquire through the local police force or chamber of commerce by neighborhood.
- Shopping and recreation. Make sure that you will be able to create and enjoy the life you want after work. Use social networking sites to connect with people your age in the city; ask them to give you an honest assessment of the things you care about (like parks, the night scene or other amenities.)
Put together a plan for moving to your new city. You’ll need to have a timeline – how long it will take you to move and find a place to live, and research how expensive it will be. Don’t count on companies paying your moving expenses, unless you’re in a very hard to fill specialty or negotiate it up front. Many companies will state whether they will pay for relocation right in the recruiting advertisement. It’s smart to start saving and planning for the move now. If you prepare in advance, you can tell the recruiter what your estimated expenses will be and ask if the company will consider covering any part of the cost (including a hotel for the first couple of days.)
Be sure to ask them if you can adjust your start date or take a few hours during your work week to find a place and get moved in. Position the request as a way for you to start the job ready to focus, and not be distracted by all the things you need to do. Factor their answer into your consideration of the offer. Even if they won’t help with your expenses, ask if there’s a current employee that might serve as a local mentor for you as you looks for a place to live and get settled.
Doing your research in advance can help you compete with local candidates, who may seem more attractive (or at least lower maintenance) than an applicant who will have trouble finding her way to the office for the first week. Take the relocation concerns off the table as quickly as you can, so the recruiter can focus on your skills and experience.