Changing cities is both exciting and daunting. Whether you are moving back home to family and friends, relocating with your spouse for their job, or simply looking for a change of pace, it’s difficult to make a professional impact on a city that you haven’t been associated with. Unless you are extremely special, chances are you’ll be seeking new employment in your new city. So how do you approach this feat in the most effectively and least stressful way possible?
You first need to answer this question: Are you moving first or finding a job first?
This is going to completely change your approach to job hunting. If you already have your move scheduled and a lease signed, then my advice is to approach job hunting per usual. Reach out to companies, present yourself well, and simply explain what your start date would be, if applicable.
However, the route most people take is to secure a job FIRST then move. Here is where the challenge comes in.
Overhaul your resume and Linkedin
Remove your current location on your resume and replace it with your target city. Next, jump on Linkedin and adjust a few things:
- Change your city on your profile page
- Activate “Open to New Opportunities” on your profile; add your target city and write an explanation, “Relocating to the Atlanta area, seeking IT-related positions within the downtown area” Recruiters and hiring managers will be able see this (and not your current employer, sneaky Linkedin), ultimately attracting the right people to your page.
Start building your network, remotely
Chances are you know SOMEONE near the city you’re moving to that can help spearhead some connections, even if it’s an old acquaintance. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them and tap their network for opportunities. Join a local networking group and use this as a resource for job openings and personal connections. Follow companies you are interested in (more importantly, their HR team) and engage with them. Make yourself a known entity in the city.
Have a PLAN
At some point, you will have a conversation with a hiring manager. Address your situation upfront and articulate it to them. Hiring managers are generally very hesitate to hire out-of-town candidates. They have a local candidate pool that isn’t’ a flight risk for changing their mind or better yet, not even being able to make it to an interview. You need to confidently explain your plan of action to a hiring manager and more importantly, when you could start the position. No one is going to believe you if the conversation plays out like this:
Hiring Manager: “So you currently live in Orlando, FL and you want to move here to Denver. How do you foresee your relocation and when would you be able to start a role here?”
Candidate: “Oh, I can start right away.”
No. That ambiguity is not going to cut it for someone looking to invest in you as an employee. Try this instead:
Candidate: “Well, I have invested time in researching the area of Denver, in relation to where your headquarters is. Considering the time for me to close my lease here, account for travel and moving time; I feel confident that I could begin a position with your team 3 weeks’ after an offer is made.”
But Devan, what about relocation packages?
So….this is a slippery slope. Remember that whole “they have a local candidate pool” thing, that’s where relocation package conversations get difficult. Each company policy is different, but generally companies will consider relocation for higher level management or executive roles before they shell out a couple grand for an entry level sales representative. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to address the topic with the team at some point, but make sure if you really want the position, you establish that it’s not a deal breaker for you (unless it’s actually a deal breaker, in that case, you’re going to reevaluate your job search).
Be present in the city
Especially if you’ve never actually been to the city you’re moving to, invest a few days to be physically there. Explore the community, the local restaurants and activities, and most importantly, the career landscape. Proactively share with hiring managers that you will be in the area from ____ to ____ and would love to set up a meeting. Stack up some interviews with local companies to show that you are serious about your move and willing to show face.
Use a Recruiter
This goes without saying, but this is going to be one of your best resources when searching for a job out of town. Reach out to a local recruiter and explain your situation. They can act as an advocate and guide to a brand new city; make suggestions on companies worth working with (and even companies to stay away from) and explain your situation to a company with professionalism and finesse. You gain immediate credibility when a Recruiter tells a hiring manager “Hi Sarah, this is Ben. He is transitioning from Orlando to Denver within the next few weeks. He brings a strong skill set that I know has been difficult for you to find in the local market. Let’s set you two up to have a conversation.”
It’s going to take some ramp up time to gain traction in a foreign market. Take a breathe and know that something will break through. People change cities all the time. You just need the right combination of resources and dedication and I promise you will be able to start a new adventure soon!