Friday, December 12, 2008

Moving Cross-Country and Finding Employment

I’m reminded about my recent experience moving from Boston, MA cross-country to the San Francisco area (East Bay California) just this past September. People (already thinking that I was crazy to pick up and go to California with only a couple months notice) would ask me: “How are you going to find work when you get there?” My response? “I’m a Career Advisor! If I can’t find myself a job right away, I need to find a new career!”

However my cockiness aside, I did come across many obstacles during my latest job search that I wasn’t accustomed to dealing with, including being discriminated against as an ‘outsider’. California it seems, obviously being quite the destination because of its beautiful weather, gets a lot of short-term transfers who say they will be here for years and end up leaving after much investment in training occurs. It must happen enough that they now try to avoid us ‘outsiders’ as much as possible. All in all, it’s not THAT much different than any other job search you’re going to go through, but here are some special tips to add to your repertoire that assisted me in nailing down my current position within a couple weeks of our arrival in sunny California:

1.) Get an address at your destination and use it.
A month or two in advance get an address at your destination city to use on your resume, cover letter, and all communications. Make sure all of your profiles on job sites and job boards are updated with this address as well. It doesn’t matter if it is a friend’s residence, or if you just use the city and not a street address. It makes you look ready to work and local, and makes it easier for the right employers to find you.

2.) Update or edit your resume on job sites every few days.
This is an insider trick known mostly only by recruiters. When recruiters search for resumes on the ‘back-ends’ of or or similar sites, the resumes that come to the top of the search results are the most recently updated. This is the reason that after a week of having your resume online you stop receiving calls. Keep it at the top instead with this trick.

3.) Visit 2 weeks early.
If you are close enough (and airline prices aren’t skyrocketing like they currently are), schedule a few days at your destination location to interview in advance. One of my best opportunities to land a position as a Director of a Career Services at a local school went down the drain because of the immediate need they had to fill it. If you can get in front of them beforehand and prove to them that you’re worth waiting for, they might just wait for you!

4.) Don’t be afraid of recruiters.
There are recruiting companies/staffing agencies/executive search firms for practically every position, level, and industry you could think of. Find the ones in your destination area that would be good choices for you and register on their websites. A week before you plan to move to your new area give them a call to schedule an in-person meeting, explaining to them that you registered on their website and asking if there is anything else you can do before the meeting to make the process go faster. Working with agencies can help you get to work fast, even if it’s only temporary, so that you don’t feel you have to take the first permanent offer that comes your way and get yourself into a career rut.

5.) Network, network, network!
Never has networking been more important than when you’re going to a new area, and our wonderful friend the internet makes it super easy. Join a professional association and email members who will be in your area, chat on message boards, reach out to friends and family to see if they know anyone from that area, basically do whatever you can to meet your peers in the area you are moving to. The Job Center Manager position I have now I was referred to by a member of the North California Career Development Association who I happened to email! All it takes is speaking to one right person!

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