The job seeker’s perennial conundrum: do you first look for a job where you want to live and then move or move first to where you want to live and then look for a job? The answer depends: on where you are in your career, your level of experience, how far the move is, the age old supply and demand (talent vs. jobs), and lastly, and perhaps most importantly, your personal financial situation.
My advice is generally different for newly minted college graduates and younger professionals than it would be for someone with exceptional skills and experience.
When you are looking for your first job or are relatively early in your career, your leverage, in terms of skills and experience, is minimal vis-à-vis the employer. That is, they have more to offer than you do. To up your chances of landing a great job where you want to live, here are five reasons to move first.
Reason #1. 80% of today’s jobs are landed through networking. It’s nearly impossible to network effectively from afar. You are disadvantaged in so many critical ways. If you are local, it’s much easier to meet people face to face, which is essential for building a strong relationship. You also have serendipity working in your favor – you might just run into someone who happens to be the key to unlocking your next career move. You can’t do that on line.
Reason #2. Companies won’t take you as seriously as they do a local candidate. And why should they? They likely have a ready supply of qualified candidates in their backyard. They will question your motivation for applying and whether you’ll even stay if you do move (see Reason #4).
Reason #3. You are perceived as a more expensive candidate if you aren’t local. Most companies don’t want to pay a dime more than they have to to get the best possible person for the role. If you live in another state or even a few hours away, you immediately brand yourself as “more expensive”. The hiring manager takes one look at your resume, sees your out of state address, and thinks, “I don’t have the budget to pay to move this person.” Your resume immediately goes in the “no” pile.
Reason #4. You’re a risky bet. If your resume shows no connection to the area where you are applying for jobs, the hiring manager is going to view you with great skepticism. They will wonder why you want to move and whether you’ll even stay if you do move. You’ve immediately branded yourself as the “hopeless romantic job seeker”. You know, the one who was raised in the Midwest but has always dreamt of living in the Pacific Northwest based solely on watching endless episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and Weeds.
Reason #5 – see reason #1. Networking. It’s critical to landing a job and doing it correctly not only means being local, it means doing it right.
So now you have five compelling reasons to make the leap of faith and move. But before you leap, there is one more question to ask yourself: can you afford it? Unlike Nike, don’t “Just Do It”. Before you go, you need a plan and some serious savings to fund it. I’ll share tips on how to create a workable plan in my next blog post. In the interim, start figuring out whose couch you can surf on in your new hometown.